20 People to Watch - Mood Rings: The rock band

The melancholy and morose five-piece disciplines its sound

In October, Mood Rings released a video for a new song called "Pathos Y Lagrimas." It was a slow and emotionally burning number that arrived as a harbinger of change for the group, although its detached and cerebral melancholy wasn't out of character for the morose Atlanta five-piece. In one fell swoop, the video's crisp look — shot as part of Converse's "Ready Set: Get Lost" series — and the song's underlying pop sensibility elevated Mood Rings to a higher plane than the average young shoegazer ensemble.

But as singer/guitarist Will Fussell explains, the "s" word is a comparison Mood Rings never really invited.

"In the beginning, the idea for us was to create this Ronettes-meets-Patsy Cline sound that was loud, ethereal, and dreamy," he says. Along with bass player Christopher Alley, guitarist Tymb Gratz, drummer Peter Cauthorn, and Mood Rings' latest addition, synth player/guitarist Seth Bolton, the band has crafted an inviting permutation of its sullen sound, all while remaining willfully outside the boundaries of easy genre classification.

"We've always liked the shoegazer sound, and it would be super easy to keep playing that kind of music, but I got into playing softer, prettier chords — more feminine sounds," Fussell says.

This break from expectation has served Mood Rings well. Shortly after releasing the new video, Fussell announced that Brooklyn-based indie label Mexican Summer (Best Coast, the Fresh & Onlys, and one-time home to Washed Out) would release the group's proper debut album, VPI Harmony, in April 2013. On the new record, Mood Rings plans to continue following the stylistic shifts put in place by "Pathos Y Lagrimas," and delve even deeper into the rich pop qualities the song embraced.

When Mexican Summer releases VPI Harmony it will actually be the second time the group has recorded the album. The final release will contain two new songs, "Pathos Y Lagrimas" and "The Line." Since neither were part of the album's (now two years in the making) initial round of writing and recording, both naturally break from the record's underlying aesthetic. But only slightly. The songs bring elements of post-punk and new wave to the group's dense and downtrodden sound. This evolution, along with the addition of Bolton, reveal some of what the future holds for Mood Rings: A crawling and seductive sound that's stretched to the breaking point, while becoming more disciplined in its attitude and design.

Mood Rings will be on the road for much of 2013, touring and fleshing out more songs for another record already in the works.

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