The Moles were a wiggy Australian pop band that released one brilliantly addled album, 1992's Untune the Sky, and an even stranger single before running aground. Moles main man Richard Davies left London, where the group had briefly relocated while searching for success, for Boston, making one last record with the Moles moniker--though 1994's Instinct was more an uneven solo record than a group effort. Davies then formed Cardinal with Eric Matthews, and the pair's sole release signaled the work of real talents. Together they crafted irresistible lush pop music that suggested heavy doses of Pet Sounds and the Beatles. Between Matthews's ornate arranging and Davies's breathless songwriting Cardinal hit true pop nirvana, making unapologetically symphonic, baroque music for an era more enthralled with noisy guitars and dime-store angst. Unfortunately, Cardinal's debut was also their swan song. Last year Matthews released a solo record for Sub Pop that showcased an even stronger knack for arranging while betraying his lack of writing and singing skills. On Davies's solo debut, There's Never Been a Crowd Like This (Flydaddy), the absence of Matthews's arrangements is overcome through superior songwriting and an effortless expressiveness. The record lacks the strings-and-horns richness that distinguished Cardinal, but Davies still crafts superb, gorgeously complex melodies sopped with an infectious grandeur. For this pair of gigs Davies will be backed by headliners the Flaming Lips. Though the Lips favor a more psych-heavy guitar attack, their sonic malleability should merge nicely with Davies's tunes. A gig with the Lips last fall in New York drew ecstatic raves. Monday and Tuesday, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Peterson.