review - 11.21.2018 19:01

THE MOLICE strikes again.

About a year ago THE MOLICE released their delightful six-track EP, SIGNS. The group, currently residing in Buffalo, New York, seem to be enjoying a productive environment and they’ve recently put out a brand new full length album called GATE. THE MOLICE certainly left an impression of interesting alternative rock but it stuck to the well-established conventions of the genre. It’ll be interesting to see how THE MOLICE works in full-length format. Have they come up with something totally novel to amaze their audience?

On SIGNS THE MOLICE pleased the listeners' ears with warm and organic sound production and Gate successfully continues in the same vein. Tight drums beat with a softly enjoyable sound and the bass crawls along smoothly. Synthesisers and other digital tricks are not used excessively, though they’re not totally forgotten either. The soundscape is varied none the less, a wide array of different guitar tones being proficiently exploited. Velvety vintage overdrive and futuristic space distortion feature plus a lot of differing stages in between. Heartfelt guitar solos also have a big role on the album. Finally, the vocalist Rinko, who also plays rhythm guitar, gives the whole a characteristic voice.

Composition-wise, THE MOLICE keep building on rather simple ground. The essence of straightforward riffs lies in rhythm, rather than in melody or complexity. The no-frills rocking vocal performance underlines the strong impact. This groovy character of the band's music may be the reason for the somewhat interesting genre description of “dancecore”, on their website. However, one should not draw the conclusion that GATE would contain nothing but unintelligent partying without any deeper musical merits. Quite the contrary in fact, it feels like the band has put more thought into interesting arrangements than they had done on the previous release. Ingenious use of the possibilities of studio recording is indeed an important skill for a three-piece band.

The album opens with Hello Hello which has been released as a nice video too. The song displays perfectly the vigorous and irresistibly groovy character of THE MOLICE. The touch is just slightly personal but not really unconventional. The second track Fever is even more fun, for the hammering riffs are now carried on by a primitive, wistful melody. The Ray catapults us in to outer space. Even here, floating in the orbit of some distant planet, the band keeps their smashing approach to playing. The wild instrumental passage in the middle of the song goes as far as to remind one of Bo Ningen's frenzied outbursts. It is really quite amazing how THE MOLICE are capable of making such varied songs from such simple ingredients. The fourth song on the album, The Moving, takes the listener by surprise, unleashing a poppy hit chorus without really differing from the album's overall feel. For a band without a bass player, they’re not shy about letting the instrument take centre stage as this song’s excellent funky bassline proves.

One of the most memorable features of SIGNS EP was the brilliant scat singing heard on some tracks. On the first listening of Gate it seemed that THE MOLICE had forgotten to use this powerful secret weapon of theirs on the album. Through more careful listening it turns out that the fifth track Freedom actually utilises it. What a pity it hasn't been granted a lead role this time but is instead made to serve as mere backup. Anyhow, Freedom is probably the best individual song on the album, wandering about for over five minutes, encountering some fine melodic moments and an excellent guitar solo. The next song, called Sing, may try to sound even more witty, swapping the scat honking for carefree tra-la-las and taking over six minutes to finish. The guitar solo is again superb and the following choir part builds up a nice atmosphere but on the whole the song feels slightly too lengthy, probably since the much repeated refrain isn't too interesting.

After two lengthier and more atmospheric songs the album concludes with three more straightforward rockers which are selections from their back catalogue, re-arranged in their current style. Out of these, Romancer is the most intense and exciting. Hole and Headphone, on the other hand, leave a bit of a lukewarm impression. It feels like towards the album's ending everything novel and refreshing has already been heard. By no means are the two concluding tracks bad, though. They rock on as you’d expect but the hardest punch remains undelivered.

As a whole, GATE is a safe and solid offering from THE MOLICE. The album is sure not to disappoint any fan of the group or even any friend of good rock music in general. The band is creative and interesting but holds back from taking any huge risks. These skillful musicians have taken the basic ingredients of rock and made them into a pleasant whole that will provide fun for a long time to come. Just because of this the idea of THE MOLICE attempting something genuinely wilder and totally unexpected feels intriguing. What if the song structures were a bit more unusual and the compositions slightly more adventurous? The band would surely have the talent to venture into some more progressive experimentation as well. We'll remain waiting for that.

GATE is available from Good Charamel Records.

Watch the video for Hello Hello below:

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