Tony Molina

Kill the Lights

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Tony Molina is a master at creating quick little snippets of sugar-sweet pop, and on 2018's Kill the Lights he expands on his last relatively bare-bones EP, Confront the Truth, by bringing in jangling 12-string guitars, Hammond organ, drums, and piano. He and a friend, Jasper Leach, worked in studios and bedrooms to get a sound that's both expansive and intimate, with baroque pop flourishes and late-night vibes. Anyone hoping for more of the loud-as-a-jet-engine guitars of Dissed and Dismissed will find that they are nowhere to be found, but those who love Molina's deadpan vocals, unerring way with a melody, and songs that hit you with a killer chorus and maybe a solo before exiting won't miss them too much. The work that Molina and Leach do with the arrangements helps take some of the sting away, too. Each song gets a unique sound, whether it's the bubbling acoustic guitars on the rambling "Before You Go," the chiming Byrds-in-a-teacup "Nothing I Can Say" (which has the warmth of two suns), the piano and organ swells on "Afraid to Go Outside," or the vocal harmonies and big-sounding guitars on "Jasper's Theme." Even though the songs may be short, they aren't tossed off. Each one has a hook and each one has a purpose. Add to that Molina's always interesting guitar soloing -- which sparkles even at a low volume -- and his pleasingly calm vocals, and the result is a really pretty album that feels like a solid step forward. It may lack some of the bite of his best work with his previous project Ovens and his early solo releases, but it's nice to follow his career as he grows and experiments (gently) with new sounds and a new-ish approach, while still delivering songs that are super-hooky and flat-out nice to listen to.

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