Very occasionally Windows Media Player can be quite an astute critic. Take for instance its acute appraisal of Slow Down, Molasses’s Walk into the Sea: “Unknown Genre”. It’s right. The band’s music seems to me to refuse to take shape, to refuse to let itself be completely defined.
They’re one of many acts of recent years that try to find new ways of playing in that space between noise and melody, between all sorts of instruments – guitar, strings, brass and feedback and sound effects and buttons. It’s a fashionable way to make music, but Slow Down, Molasses do it thoughtfully enough not to sound imitative.
Their lyrics are tender and sincere in a way that’s smart but not showy. Whenever they throw a hook for us to hold onto, it’s crisp and bouncy, and easy to grasp. All the extra noise is like the shadow of these events, augmenting the substance of the whole, sometimes overtaking it. Or maybe, going by the album’s title and its ocean imagery, they think of the noise more like the foam at the edge of the tide. Whatever it is, it builds in well and oozes out passionately. The trouble is, by showing us the foam, however beautiful, they miss out on the big crashing wave behind it, they spray us, tease us, instead of knocking us over.
In fact, even after playing this album through a few times, as soon as it stops I can’t quite remember what it sounds like. It’s unmemorable, like trying to remember the faces of the extras in a film. It’s not inherently a bad thing, but it makes it hard to get excited about, and harder still to describe its sound. But then Windows Media Player could have told you that.
Words: Tom Moyser