TONY MOLINA – ” Kill The Lights “

Posted: July 31, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Tony Molina, Master of Short Songs, Explains Why Melody Is King

Tony Molina has mastered the axiom of leaving ’em wanting more. This West Bay Area singer/songwriter cut his teeth playing hardcore punk, recording bite-sized noise-pop blasts with the band The Ovens, before going solo with 2014’s Dissed and Dismissed, This 12-track album of pitch-perfect that lasts less than 12 minutes. Kill the Lights is almost as short: 10 tracks in under 15 minutes. The longest song is actually two in one, “Look Inside Your Mind/Losin’ Touch,” which features a woozy psych-pop melody, a delicately plucked interlude and a bluesy solo within it’s two and a half minutes. What’s interesting and impressive about Molina’s songs is that they rarely feel unfinished or even hurried. The guy usually packs a verse and a chorus, maybe a guitar solo and/or some fingerpicking, and he paces it all perfectly across 26 or 57 or 91 seconds. He is seemingly unbound by verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus conventions, and yet his mini-masterpieces always feel complete.

Molina has been following a fascinating trajectory on his recent string of releases. Early entries like the “6 Songs EP” of Weezer/Teenage Fanclub-style power-pop with Tony’s smart, touching songs, shredding guitar pyrotechnics and ironclad DIY HC roots. 2016’s “Confront The Truth” EP flipped the script in a big way, leaving the guitar crunch behind in favor of mostly acoustic arrangements that owe as much to “Horizontal”-era Bee Gees and the Fanclub’s mellower moments as they do to Georges Harrison and Martin. It’s a masterful record, packing more melodic flair and emotional truth into 11 minutes than most bands manage in an hour.

This long-awaited album “Kill The Lights.” continue in his evolution towards stripping the songs back to reveal each one’s emotional and melodic core. But where “Confront The Truth” was mostly acoustic, “Kill The Lights” adds back some full band arrangements to brilliant effect. Album opener “Nothing I Can Say” is a lovely 12-string pop tune that would sit snugly in The Byrds’ songbook – it’s that good. “Wrong Town” is gentle and subtly wrenching, recalling prime Elliott Smith in its simple truth. “Afraid To Go Outside” expands on some of the pastoral early Bee Gees/Kaleidoscope/Tomorrow flavor revealed on “Confront,” aided by some great organ lines. “Now That She’s Gone” features some gorgeous guitar finger-picking, while “Jasper’s Theme” is a rootsy mid-tempo groover that leans towards Gram-era Byrds.

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Everywhere on “Kill The Lights” we hear Tony showing his influences with great skill and intention; these classic folk and pop styles are being employed in the service of stellar songs and universal lyrical truths rather than just as aesthetic filigree. This is why beautiful, elegant songs like “When She Leaves” and “Before You Go” aren’t really so far from Molina’s past punk roots, they reflect a dedication to craft combined with an intense commitment to self-expression that transcends simplistic genre boundaries. The sonic palette may be shifting, but the tunes are all Tony and we should all be grateful for that.

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