Dan Carey’s cult rock record label Speedy Wunderground (black midi, Black Country, New Road, Squid, Tiña, et al.) has welcomed a new act into its ranks, London-based indie-pop five-piece moa moa. James Ratcliffe (guitars, keys, vocals), Connor James (keys, guitar), Sophie Parkes (sax, vocals), Dan Byrne (bass) and Matt Taylor (drums) essentially wrote and recorded their debut Speedy release—the spirited psych-pop single “Coltan Candy”—in real time, as is Carey and company’s wont, resulting in a thrilling deviation from their usual sound. Paste has the pleasure of premiering the track ahead of its July 1 (digital) and Sept. 10 (physical, with an extremely limited 7” run of only 250 copies) releases as the 36th entry in Speedy’s long-running single series.
“Coltan Candy” is the end result of moa moa having sent Speedy (the team effort of producer Carey, engineer Alexis Smith and A&R Pierre Hall) a collection of demos during lockdown—amid mostly finished songs, it was a 20-second snippet of a song idea that caught Carey’s ear. “I know it sounds mad” the producer recalls in a statement, “but I just knew there was something in it.” The band, Carey and Smith met for the first time, and then built the song’s sound around that kernel of an idea in just one day, over the course of a marathon 13-hour recording session at Speedy’s Streatham, South London studio.
“We’re a super neurotic band, so the idea of going into a space where you can’t overthink things, have to work fast and make quick decisions was probably the antithesis of our process to date. Especially as we only had a 10-second riff the night before!” moa moa tell Paste. “But we were really keen to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and doing Speedy was such a brilliant thing for us. We’re really pleased to have captured the wonkier elements of moa moa, even though it’s a very live-sounding record. I’m not sure what we expected from working with Dan, but it was really great to find someone who was very sensitive to our music—almost intuitively—and willing to adapt certain aspects of Speedy to us as a band.”
Where previous moa moa singles like 2020’s “Yellow Jacket” and “Spinning” are more midtempo and meandering, “Coltan Candy” has a hyper-focused intensity about it, splattering psych-rock colors across the canvas of a shuffling funk groove, and melding the alt-pop sensibilities of an Unknown Mortal Orchestra with the trippy instrumentation and tongue-in-cheek lyricism of an MGMT. “If you want to see your child again / Please watch my Powerpoint to the end,” Ratcliffe sings during one unexpected, fleeting breakdown, a laugh line no less effective for its menace.
Though its heavily distorted guitars and feathery synths lend the track an effervescent lightness, “Lyrically, the tune is darker and more direct than our other stuff,” says Ratcliffe, “even if it’s offset by everything else going on in the music. The main hook of the song is the lyric ‘Coltan Candy’ which refers to a mineral that has been mined unethically for decades in Africa for the production of electronic circuits in the West. I’m making some pretty [over-the-top] comments about corruption, technology and the failures of institutions in the West, but also asking some questions about our own involvement and inability to do anything about it.”
That moa moa can couch such urgent commentary in such engaging music is proof that Carey’s ears did not deceive him when he heard something in this band. No word yet on any further releases, but you can bet we’ll share it once there is.
The band will play the first of Speedy Wunderground’s HOMECOMING Residencies at The Social in London on Aug. 7 alongside Honeyglaze, Uma Thurman, deep tan DJs and “some very special guests,” per a press release.
Watch moa moa’s “Coltan Candy” visualizer below and stream/buy the track via your preferred platform here.