III further refines the Moderat template. The music is graced by soaring, undulating melodies (Ring supplies the vocals), unexpected textures and rhythms, and an attention to songcraft that goes beyond what the trio has offered before. The same could be said for the lyrics, oblique philosophical musings that feel like more than just another sonic element. On lead single "Reminder," Ring's words evoke both despair and hope ("We're down the bottom of the well / Burning bridges light my way") atop a quasi-dancehall rhythm. The song veers between skeletal verse—skittering beats and throbbing bass beneath an eerie coo—and a swelling, almost triumphant chorus. Similarly, the fragile, fluttering synths and subdued vibe that make up the first third of "Intruder" soon give way to towering climaxes, with Ring's voice building from a resigned mutter to a wrenching wail.
Those overtly emotional tunes can register as mopey pop, albeit with a sense of adventure. The near-Gothic romanticism of "Ghostmother"'s melody could feel overwrought for some, but the way the song layers high-pitched vocals over gently murmuring instrumentation and a skittering breakbeat alleviates the melodrama. Likewise, "The Fool," with its billowing, palatial feel, conveys a sense of grand despair, even as it's grounded by its stately pace and gorgeous harmonics.
Heard in one go, with all those swelling choruses and sweeping melodies, III can feel awfully bombastic. The best moments come when Moderat keeps things simple. The staccato, syncopated chords of "Finder," unadorned save for its straightforward beats and Ring's wordless vocal hook, or the hushed intimacy of "The Fool"—songs like these provide a welcome counterpoint to all the high drama. But unrestrained emotion is ultimately III's defining attribute, and that richness can be too much to bear.