Option Explore, Dylan Moon’s second full- length album, is a glassy-eyed survey of pop’s playing field both past and present, and a collection of clever, colourful songs filtered through frequencies, timbres, and dreams discovered and discarded while its maker shifts from one sub-genre to the next.
Option Explore signals a significant departure from Moon’s debut 2019 album Only the Blues, which at its heart is a folk record from the forlorn fringes of psychedelia: a little mysterious, but ultimately lucid in its internal logic and generous with standalone, but sing-along, songs. Dylan’s 2020 EP Oh No Oh No Oh No suggested both a shift in his writing and listening habits, culminating with the 2021 compilation Moon’s Toons Vol. 1. On Option Explore, Moon willfully spins multitudes. With a careful study of synthpop, a penchant for warped yet unwavering guitar grooves, and an effortless songwriting ability, he leans into unlikely convergences, and arrives at something deeply futuristic in its disregard for genre sanctity.
Moon studied electronic production and sound design in music school, and found himself drawn to the exactitude of pop production. That purity is distilled on Option Explore to a potent effect: Moon acts as a kind of hyperliterate genre hijacker, pulling from Scritti Politti’s sophisti-pop aesthetic, Buddy Holly’s textbook chord progressions, and J Dilla’s scrappy architecture. But Moon chooses not to scaffold these reference points into formulaic songs, instead reassembling fragments from each as subconsciously recognizable moments. Option Explore is bricolage, never pastiche.
Moon’s reprocessing of forgotten digital timbres echoes the pop quality and oddity of Television Personalities or Cleaners From Venus , and subsequent revivalists like The Clientele and Cate Le Bon . But coding Moon’s studious scavenging and repurposing as simple nostalgia belies how imaginative it is. Picturing his process feels impossible, like trying to visualize a color you’ve never seen. Though Option Explore takes cues from many reference points, it ultimately chooses to explore something wholly new.