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Reviews

The Molochs
Flowers In The Spring Barnaby Smith , September 16th, 2018 18:46

It’s derivative, and it’s good: second album from the snarling young rock&roll throwbacks

The Molochs might easily be dismissed as another drop in the ocean of West Coast bands that still hold the conviction that their best course is to mimic and pay homage to the rocknroll of 1964-68. Indeed, so familiar is their aesthetic that one wonders if a couple of songs on their 2017 debut America's Velvet Glory and on this follow-up could attract the attention of overzealous legal representatives for The Rolling Stones or The Kinks.

The Molochs are nonetheless a striking proposition, for two reasons: their spectacularly caustic wit; and their refined ability to chisel away at a song until it is sharp, sinewy and instantly catchy.

Flowers In The Spring is a collection of spiky and sardonic songs – presumably aimed at someone who has jilted Molochs singer Lucas Fitzsimons, he of the gloriously embittered nasal snarl. On some tracks – ‘To Kick In A Lover’s Door’, ‘I Wanna Say To You’ and ‘Flowers In The Spring’ – the snide cynicism can get a little bit much, until you realise that most of this nastiness is parody. The frankly hilarious ‘Pages Of Your Journal’, in which Fitzsimons details leafing through another’s private diary, reveals a darkly comic pop mind, like a kind of garage rock Randy Newman. “Judging by the pages in your journal / It’s safe to say that you don’t like me,” sings Fitzsimons. “I didn’t do much to deserve it / I’ll write about it in my journal tonight.”

In all this sneering vitriol, there lurks a sincere yearning. The swooning cascade of ‘She Blows’ and the string-laden ‘She’s Sleeping Now’ display vulnerability amid the contempt expressed on most other songs. The posturing, pouting and joking dominate, but there is also a reaching for simplicity and honesty: “Wash my sins away,” Fitzsimons sings repeatedly on ‘Wade In The Water’.

But all of this would be impotent without The Molochs’ knack for brutally concise songwriting. Unlike America’s Velvet Glory, which took on the sprawl and drone of the Velvet Underground in parts, each of the short songs on Flowers In The Spring is free of sonic flab. This is 1960s R&B by rote, with dashes of early 1990s British indie (The Charlatans or Stone Roses perhaps) and on ‘First Time I Saw You’, the accomplished power-pop of Brendan Benson. The Molochs don’t venture beyond this template, but this is a satisfying set from a duo with an impressively unwavering focus.

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