Modern Moxie creates just the sort of music its name suggests: spirited, pop-influenced sound, coupled with lyrics that are both convincingly personal and politically cognizant. The Charlotte, NC-based group’s first record, Claw Your Way Out, featured songs with no shortage of creative pluck—sometimes serious, often wry, and always forceful and energetic.
But here’s the thing: Claw Your Way Out came out in 2019—a lifetime ago, by the strange laws of time instated by COVID-19. The last two years have seen a global pandemic, a nail-biting presidential election, and no shortage of fear, turmoil, and uncertainty. With that in mind, Modern Moxie’s latest release is a clarion call, a true protest song: “Big Wave.”
“Big Wave” has its origins early in 2020. It was singer-songwriter Madison Lucas’s reply to the anger and chaos of the pandemic era—“a rip-roading ride through all the emotions associated with political, biological, and intellectual fear.” Her words are both declaration and condemnation, a call-to-action paired with righteous judgement of those at fault.
This frankness is typical to Modern Moxie’s lyrical style. In 2020’s “Til I’m a Ghost”, Lucas takes a break from sports nostalgia and rock’n’roll braggadocio to assert, “I hate you Brett Kavanaugh.” In “Big Wave”, we upgrade to “Fuck you Donald Trump”. It must be said: it feels very good (at least, to 51.3% of the electorate) to hear those words spoken to a man who finally has the nuclear codes no longer. It also helps to sustain the levity in the song—some well-deserved celebration amid the righteous rage.
The levity of “Big Wave” also comes from its instrumentation. Lucas’s incisive lyrics are paired with a speedy drum beat and a gently-overdriven guitar. This lends the song an aggressive bounce, like the cheerfully caustic love-child of surf rock and skate rock. Occasionally the percussion morphs into a drum cadence—a marching beat for newly-enlightened revolutionaries.
It’s late 2021, and politics is still on our minds. Our traditional cultural stoplights—the end of the year, or the conclusion of a presidential election—have done little to ease our tensions or end our passions. “Big Wave” highlights just how important political consciousness is. But though its subject matter is perilous, the song’s tone isn’t hopeless. Indeed, it’s hope that shines through most strongly, that transforms the song from a beat to an anthem, that makes you want to get out and march.
Get energized by “Big Wave” in Modern Moxie’s upcoming EP, Gutter Honey.
Written by Alex Figueiredo