11 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Big Moon’s debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, was an ebullient account of falling in love that earned the London band a Mercury nomination in 2017. By the time singer/guitarist Juliette Jackson began to write songs for the follow-up, she was coming back down to an earth in turmoil. Heavy political, social, and environmental turbulence accompanied personal changes as she watched friends’ lives suddenly shift in new directions. “A lot of this album is about feeling lost and unstable, like there’s this constant feeling that anything could happen,” she tells Apple Music. “I’d love to tell you that we made an album to distract you from the scary things in the real world, but it’s more about facing up to them and finding your strength in turbulent times.” While retaining their gift for crisp melodies, the band enriched their indie rock by plugging in synths and samplers and picking up flutes and trumpets. “We didn’t go full Pet Shop Boys, though,” Jackson says. “I’d just been to a couple of raves and had decided sub-bass and straight-up 4/4 beats were the best and purest thing in the world. You can do a lot with a guitar, but you can't get the same sonic depth and width that you can from some electronic sounds. Especially bass. We wanted to be bold.” Here, she guides us through the album, track by track.

It’s Easy Then
“This last couple of years, I feel like I’ve been always looking for ways to find strength. We are living through strange times—we work too much, we think too much, we know too much, so we all worry too much. Our anxieties are stoked every day. Music has this incredible way of helping us see with a new perspective and ties up your feelings in a way that language by itself never could. I wanted to write a song that made me feel better—something that captured the frustrations but also the hope and joy all at the same time.”

Your Light
“I was thinking about how hard it is to tell if things are worse now or if they have always been this way and I just grew up and started paying attention. It feels like we are at this unprecedented tipping point, but then it occurred to me that every generation before us probably had a moment when they thought they were going to be the last generation on earth. This song is about freeing yourself from all of it, just for a moment. It’s a thanks to the one person or thing in your life that knows how to come in and open your curtains and light up the darkness—and restore your strength so that when you clatter back down into the real world, you have the strength to fight your battles, whatever they are.”

Dog Eat Dog
“I wrote this song a couple of days after the fire at Grenfell. I think that what happened really affected London for a long time and we are still grieving and trying to process it. It still stands there as a reminder. It became such a devastating symbol for the huge divisions between rich and poor in our country. There’s a line: ‘I guess tailored suits don’t grow on trees, but tragedies eventually turn into memes.’ I wrote that after reading an article that talked about how much Theresa May's election wardrobe cost—it was in the thousands—and later reading how much it would have cost to install fireproof cladding on Grenfell Tower. I think it was literally something like £2. This whole thing could so easily have been avoided, but nobody cared or listened enough to fix it before it happened. Theresa May came out in a nice suit and apologized, and the next day that's a shareable video that exists in the same format as cute cat memes and it all gets swept along in the tide of the internet.”

Why
“A lot of this album ended up being about growing up and moving on. This song came about after I met up with an old friend who’d moved to the coast and I suddenly realized how much they’d moved on. I saw my friends’ trainers on the sand on the beach before I saw her, and it just felt like such a poignant image of the loss I felt.”

Don’t Think
“I go to a lot of festivals, and I wanted to capture that magical feeling of running around a field at night with your mates. The flashing lights, the dancing round a pile of bags, the elbowed drinks, the way coincidences seem to happen more often. Something special happens when a lot of people go to one place just to be silly and have fun. It’s like playtime. We turn into kids again. I met my partner at a festival, and I’d always wanted to write a song about taking your chances with a stranger and not always letting your brain talk you out of doing something that seems foolish.”

Waves
“It’s so easy to not notice the signs of a relationship failing, or to ignore them when you do. Sometimes all you have to go on are those signs and little clues around you, and how can you ever tell when they add up to something bigger? It can be a change that’s imperceptible to the human eye, just like the tide coming in. This song was such a pleasure to record. We were all a bit hung over and it was just a whole day of making fuzz and drones on guitar and everyone sat with their hoods up in a trance.”

Holy Roller
“I’ve always been jealous of the devoutly religious: Imagine believing so truly in something so huge, so expansive, that explained everything you couldn’t and gave you a reason for everything that happened, good or bad. I was sick of hearing about the millennial limbo we are all stuck in—yeah, maybe we’ll never own a house, maybe AI will make our jobs redundant, maybe we are all struggling with our mental health...but hey, why don’t we start our own religion where we drink Coke instead of wine and worship our own idols. Like contour kits and payday loans and porn. I love singing this song—it’s simultaneously so dark and so funny, it just makes me laugh.”

Take a Piece
“I initially wrote this song for someone else, speculatively—for a pop star. I’d already written an album’s worth of songs, but a lot of them felt similar to our first album and I wanted to try something different. I’d just watched a documentary about this pop star and seen how insane their life was and their intense relationship with their fans. I was blown away by how much of themselves they’d had to give up to have the life they had. It was a bit of a turning point in the writing process: Sometimes you have to pretend to be someone else to change things up and say things in ways you didn’t know you could. This mega pop star’s life was literally nothing like mine, but I could really identify with the vulnerability of being a performer and feeling the eyes of an audience, which can feel grounding and unifying or—occasionally—scary and isolating. It also has a lot to do with how it felt to write this second album: trying to get out of your head, figuring out which voices to listen to and which to ignore, and ultimately wanting to pour yourself into the thing you’re creating and make something honest and meaningful that might connect with someone else and mean something to them as well.”

Barcelona
“There’s a moment in your twenties where suddenly everything changes, and this last couple of years I’ve really hit that moment—my friends are moving on, moving away, starting to have babies and buy houses and go on new adventures. In a band you can kind of get a bit stuck: You go away on tour for long periods, and each time you come home you find things have changed again. You start to feel left behind. I feel like an overgrown teenager. You’re simultaneously happy for them but also a bit sad that they left you behind—it’s bittersweet.”

A Hundred Ways to Land
“This is about finding confidence in the face of what feels like endless uncertainty—standing tall in your boots even if you're completely lost. Things feel unstable these days, and it’s easy to feel powerless. But we aren’t. We all have the ability to make a difference in our own space, our own neighborhood. I guess I wanted to remind myself of my own strength, of the powers we do have.”

ADHD
“This is a song for a close friend who was late-diagnosed with ADHD. We had a late-night conversation and she told me all about her past regrets and things she thought she’d done wrong in her life because of it. I was trying to tell her that she’s always been wonderful and she doesn’t need to regret, she doesn’t have to worry about what other people think. Is It You, Is It Me, Is It ADHD? is the name of a book she said she saw on the shelf in a therapist’s office, and for some reason it really stuck with me.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Big Moon’s debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, was an ebullient account of falling in love that earned the London band a Mercury nomination in 2017. By the time singer/guitarist Juliette Jackson began to write songs for the follow-up, she was coming back down to an earth in turmoil. Heavy political, social, and environmental turbulence accompanied personal changes as she watched friends’ lives suddenly shift in new directions. “A lot of this album is about feeling lost and unstable, like there’s this constant feeling that anything could happen,” she tells Apple Music. “I’d love to tell you that we made an album to distract you from the scary things in the real world, but it’s more about facing up to them and finding your strength in turbulent times.” While retaining their gift for crisp melodies, the band enriched their indie rock by plugging in synths and samplers and picking up flutes and trumpets. “We didn’t go full Pet Shop Boys, though,” Jackson says. “I’d just been to a couple of raves and had decided sub-bass and straight-up 4/4 beats were the best and purest thing in the world. You can do a lot with a guitar, but you can't get the same sonic depth and width that you can from some electronic sounds. Especially bass. We wanted to be bold.” Here, she guides us through the album, track by track.

It’s Easy Then
“This last couple of years, I feel like I’ve been always looking for ways to find strength. We are living through strange times—we work too much, we think too much, we know too much, so we all worry too much. Our anxieties are stoked every day. Music has this incredible way of helping us see with a new perspective and ties up your feelings in a way that language by itself never could. I wanted to write a song that made me feel better—something that captured the frustrations but also the hope and joy all at the same time.”

Your Light
“I was thinking about how hard it is to tell if things are worse now or if they have always been this way and I just grew up and started paying attention. It feels like we are at this unprecedented tipping point, but then it occurred to me that every generation before us probably had a moment when they thought they were going to be the last generation on earth. This song is about freeing yourself from all of it, just for a moment. It’s a thanks to the one person or thing in your life that knows how to come in and open your curtains and light up the darkness—and restore your strength so that when you clatter back down into the real world, you have the strength to fight your battles, whatever they are.”

Dog Eat Dog
“I wrote this song a couple of days after the fire at Grenfell. I think that what happened really affected London for a long time and we are still grieving and trying to process it. It still stands there as a reminder. It became such a devastating symbol for the huge divisions between rich and poor in our country. There’s a line: ‘I guess tailored suits don’t grow on trees, but tragedies eventually turn into memes.’ I wrote that after reading an article that talked about how much Theresa May's election wardrobe cost—it was in the thousands—and later reading how much it would have cost to install fireproof cladding on Grenfell Tower. I think it was literally something like £2. This whole thing could so easily have been avoided, but nobody cared or listened enough to fix it before it happened. Theresa May came out in a nice suit and apologized, and the next day that's a shareable video that exists in the same format as cute cat memes and it all gets swept along in the tide of the internet.”

Why
“A lot of this album ended up being about growing up and moving on. This song came about after I met up with an old friend who’d moved to the coast and I suddenly realized how much they’d moved on. I saw my friends’ trainers on the sand on the beach before I saw her, and it just felt like such a poignant image of the loss I felt.”

Don’t Think
“I go to a lot of festivals, and I wanted to capture that magical feeling of running around a field at night with your mates. The flashing lights, the dancing round a pile of bags, the elbowed drinks, the way coincidences seem to happen more often. Something special happens when a lot of people go to one place just to be silly and have fun. It’s like playtime. We turn into kids again. I met my partner at a festival, and I’d always wanted to write a song about taking your chances with a stranger and not always letting your brain talk you out of doing something that seems foolish.”

Waves
“It’s so easy to not notice the signs of a relationship failing, or to ignore them when you do. Sometimes all you have to go on are those signs and little clues around you, and how can you ever tell when they add up to something bigger? It can be a change that’s imperceptible to the human eye, just like the tide coming in. This song was such a pleasure to record. We were all a bit hung over and it was just a whole day of making fuzz and drones on guitar and everyone sat with their hoods up in a trance.”

Holy Roller
“I’ve always been jealous of the devoutly religious: Imagine believing so truly in something so huge, so expansive, that explained everything you couldn’t and gave you a reason for everything that happened, good or bad. I was sick of hearing about the millennial limbo we are all stuck in—yeah, maybe we’ll never own a house, maybe AI will make our jobs redundant, maybe we are all struggling with our mental health...but hey, why don’t we start our own religion where we drink Coke instead of wine and worship our own idols. Like contour kits and payday loans and porn. I love singing this song—it’s simultaneously so dark and so funny, it just makes me laugh.”

Take a Piece
“I initially wrote this song for someone else, speculatively—for a pop star. I’d already written an album’s worth of songs, but a lot of them felt similar to our first album and I wanted to try something different. I’d just watched a documentary about this pop star and seen how insane their life was and their intense relationship with their fans. I was blown away by how much of themselves they’d had to give up to have the life they had. It was a bit of a turning point in the writing process: Sometimes you have to pretend to be someone else to change things up and say things in ways you didn’t know you could. This mega pop star’s life was literally nothing like mine, but I could really identify with the vulnerability of being a performer and feeling the eyes of an audience, which can feel grounding and unifying or—occasionally—scary and isolating. It also has a lot to do with how it felt to write this second album: trying to get out of your head, figuring out which voices to listen to and which to ignore, and ultimately wanting to pour yourself into the thing you’re creating and make something honest and meaningful that might connect with someone else and mean something to them as well.”

Barcelona
“There’s a moment in your twenties where suddenly everything changes, and this last couple of years I’ve really hit that moment—my friends are moving on, moving away, starting to have babies and buy houses and go on new adventures. In a band you can kind of get a bit stuck: You go away on tour for long periods, and each time you come home you find things have changed again. You start to feel left behind. I feel like an overgrown teenager. You’re simultaneously happy for them but also a bit sad that they left you behind—it’s bittersweet.”

A Hundred Ways to Land
“This is about finding confidence in the face of what feels like endless uncertainty—standing tall in your boots even if you're completely lost. Things feel unstable these days, and it’s easy to feel powerless. But we aren’t. We all have the ability to make a difference in our own space, our own neighborhood. I guess I wanted to remind myself of my own strength, of the powers we do have.”

ADHD
“This is a song for a close friend who was late-diagnosed with ADHD. We had a late-night conversation and she told me all about her past regrets and things she thought she’d done wrong in her life because of it. I was trying to tell her that she’s always been wonderful and she doesn’t need to regret, she doesn’t have to worry about what other people think. Is It You, Is It Me, Is It ADHD? is the name of a book she said she saw on the shelf in a therapist’s office, and for some reason it really stuck with me.”

TITLE TIME

More By The Big Moon