Alt-pop firecracker Josie Moon has just released her debut album, ‘Paint Me How You Need Me’. The Te Whanganui-A-Tara-based songwriter, performer and producer has used her whole toolkit to make this body of work come to life.
Moon has been quietly building her profile with several singles leading up to this album, the oldest being Victor Hotel which dropped in 2019, as well as collaborations that include a track called I Know What You’re Thinking for Sam Cullen’s recent EP ‘Run’.
Her own 12-song album starts with muted background chatter over what sounds like the ticking indicator of a car, smoothly interrupted with reverb heavy keyboard as she starts singing This Time (rewind). The chords are deep and expansive, the feeling like diving into a deep pool and swimming to the bottom. As the song ends a male voice comes in to announce, “Hi… this is an intro to one of my favourite albums.” The scene is apparently set for something special.
Victor Hotel sets the album proper off in a direction that’s much more pop/hip hop focused, with a dull bass melody and drum pad holding down the rhythm. Moon’s breathy vocals are unique and interesting, often pitched at the top of her range, which grabs attention and lends an identifiable, urgent quality to her vocal tone.
The album’s title track, Paint Me How You Need Me, has a similar feel. The bass is deeper and thicker, the vocals throughout sounding intentionally autotuned in a style slightly reminiscent of the late 2000s. Just Fumez has grit and sass, and an abrasive soundbite that combine to give the feeling someone seriously pissed her off, and this song goes out to them. Much more approachable and poppy, Easy centres on perfection and the idea that mistakes encourage growth and are something to be embraced rather than shied away from. The closing interlude in Easy has the same male voice from the intro saying, “…you know how people are like, ‘I wish I was perfect’… if someone was perfect, that would be so boring.” It works to bring a bit of reality back into the experience, grounding the song in human experience rather than fantasy.
Across the board this interesting album feels genuine and heartfelt, with Josie Moon‘s vocals always easily holding attention above the diverse electronic background. Through density, energy, and expression the album expands as it develops. Final song, Don’t Touch, contrasts entirely with the first song This Time (rewind), bringing ‘Paint Me How You Need Me’ to its colourful alt-pop peak.