Pete Molinari

Theosophy

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AllMusic Review by

A new millennium New Dylan long before Jake Bugg came along and stole the crown, Pete Molinari always made hay of the comparisons to the Bard and Woody Guthrie, but unlike so many other latter-day troubadours, he also had an ear for good-sounding records. He worked with Billy Childish at the dawn of his career, but even that flirtation with garage rock offers little preparation for the colorfulness of Theosophy, his fourth album. Working with producer Liam Watson, along with mixer/producer Tchad Blake and Andrew Weatherall, and finding space for a cameo from Black Key Dan Auerbach, Molinari pushes his music into the swirling head space of the psychedelic '60s, spending as much time reveling in the dimensions of sound as in the wonder of words. This unexpected emphasis on sonics makes Theosophy grabbing in a way Bugg's cod-Dylanisms are not, but the groovy thing about this record is that its bones are as well-constructed as the production. Molinari's songwriting is exceptionally tight, so all the flourishes -- some borrowed from the swinging London of 1966, some borrowed from U.S. garage rock, a lot of ringing guitars coming out of Los Angeles -- winds up accentuating, not distracting. It's a nifty record: a double-edged throwback, evoking the singer/songwriters of the '60s but sounding like a different part of that decade, which is why its retro-ism winds up as invigorating.

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