Switched On – Liela Moss: Internal Working Model (Bella Union)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Former Duke Spirit vocalist Liela Moss has big plans for her third solo album. Co-written with her partner Toby Butler, Internal Working Model sees her ‘imagining a tribe, navigating away from our very centralized culture, dismantling it and revising the way I think things work’.

Central to her principles are the idea of cooperation rather than competition, and the idea that we should be speaking out more against global manipulators, greed and corruption. To that end, her and Butler chose a more upfront, electronic sound than she has used previously, and also some notable guests – Gary Numan, The Savages’ Jehnny Beth and Dhani Harrison.

What’s the music like?

Sticking to its brief, Internal Working Model presents a bold musical language. Moss is a compelling vocalist, taking charge from the outset and making her points with poise and conviction.

Empathy Files is a very strong opener, both musically and lyrically, with a sinister undertone as the chorus notes, “We’ve got data for miles on you”. Another standout song is Vanishing Shadows, where Moss and Gary Numan have a compelling frisson between the voices, not to mention a standout chorus. Ache In The Middle presents stronger tones of regret (“I could have been so happy, there would have been peace”), while the preceding The Wall From The Floor also speaks with anguished tones. “I can’t tell the wall from the floor any more”, she sings.

The drums play a bit part on Internal Working Model, adding power to Come And Find Me and ballast to the final call to arms, Love As Hard As You Can. With guest Dhani Harrison, Moss signs off on a high, looking to the future with renewed optimism and a steely gaze.

Does it all work?

Largely. Moss has a powerful message to bring, and delivers it with wholly convincing vocals. The electro production has bags of attitude too. On occasion more distinctive melodies would be welcome in the songs, to match the fine production.

Is it recommended?

Yes. As a statement of intent, and a rousing call for the start of a new year, Internal Working Model is a resolute piece of work. Moss is a compelling singer, a voice pushing to be heard.

Listen

Buy