Throwback Thursday: “Angels on the Moon” by Thriving Ivory

You don’t really hear about Thriving Ivory these days, at least outside of posts like this. Then it’s like, “Remember when a California band wrote a really moving alt-rock song inspired by both 9/11 and U2?”

That’s right. An odd combination, no? Songwriter Scott Jason’s lyric about the “New York City angels” is a very specific reference to that event. As for the U2 influence, Jason reportedly heard “Where The Streets Have No Name” and wanted to capture that same emotion with his own songs. You can hear that with the echoing synths at the beginning of “Angels on the Moon.” There are hints in the lyrics as well: compare U2’s “I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear down the walls/That hold me inside” to Thriving Ivory’s “I wanna feel, all the chemicals inside…/I wanna sunburn, just to know that I’m alive.”

The other thing that stands out to me with this song is the intense amount of vocal fry. That’s not something that happens particularly often in alt-rock, especially not with male singers – or even male singers generally. Clayton Stroope’s voice scratches along at a specific register. It only raises to a breaking point at lines like “Where everyone you know never leaves too soon” or the final “Don’t tell me if I’m dying” repetition.

Instrumentally, the song isn’t particularly complex. It has the standard drumbeat that you heard regularly in the genre during the mid-aughts, complete with a guitar break. The song speeds up towards the end, only to slow abruptly and burst into the chorus. This tugging along is compelling.

I was always curious about the cover art for the single. It depicts a woman who’s sitting on what appears to be a piano. She’s wearing black wings that are shedding and a wispy, semi-transparent gown. It doesn’t look like she’s on the moon, and she’s not a stereotypical angel. Maybe it’s just one of those deep/artsy covers that doesn’t, or isn’t supposed to, have a meaning. What do you think?

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