I jumped with joy when I first heard this tune. It’s lyrical, intelligent pop – simple enough to be accessible and yet with enough canny clout to warrant repeated listens. Any songwriter that’s able to rhyme Moscow with Heathrow is sound in my book and the fact that Joe almost does it as a throwaway afterthought makes it all the better. Some compare his work to Jeffrey Lewis, The Decemberists or Conor Oberst but, in this release, I’d say the songwriting is more akin to the best of Neil Hannon or Ian Broudie. Yep, it’s that good.
And it’s no accident that Joe describes ‘Moscow’, the first release from his forthcoming album, Foreign Domestic Policy, as ‘post-Brexit Indie’. As with all great tunes, there’s a number of ways to interpret the meaning. On the surface, this is a song to a lover that’s leaving. But, on a wider reading, it’s a song about the blindfold that many in the United Kingdom seem to be embracing as we sleepwalk beyond Article 50 and towards the inevitability of Brexit.
The video for Moscow is quirky and neat, illuminating the song but never distracting from it. In it, we find our protagonist post-dream stumbling around iconic parts of London in a virtual reality mask. Disconnected from everything, he seems to be asking us to pinch him so that he can wake from his nightmare. His love is off to Moscow and all he has is his island.