The Molochs // Sleep in Doom
Cut Note Records
Recommended Track: Living in My Mind
Like it or not, believe it or not, garage music in its latest incarnation has reached terminal velocity and all bands who now associate themselves with the genre are likely destined for the heap of cultural irrelevance; forever to be lumped in with the same-y sounds of second and third wavers who do little to advance the art form and much to pad somebody’s pocketbook, though probably not their own. This needn’t, however, be the fate of the Molochs: a very good rock band who one gets the sense CHOOSE to play garage when they could easily choose to play music that is far more forward-thinking than much of what’s happening on new single Sleep In Doom.
Maybe the Molochs like garage music and that’s why they play it. Fair enough and no shame in that. They are good at it, and, as a garage single, Sleep in Doom is more than competent and a very enjoyable listen to boot. However, it’s faint praise indeed to recommend a band for excelling at being basic. Garage is inherently an uncomplicated genre, created by and for amateurs, and many bands play garage because they’re just not skilled enough to play anything else. This is not the case with The Molochs, who are almost too skilled to be working in such a simple musical grammar.
It speaks to Lucas Fitzsimons’ excellent songwriting ability, really, that one can easily imagine his songs working across a number of genres. There’s a lot darkness pulsing below the surface of both sides of this single, and the discerning listener may question if garage is really the ideal medium for his message. The high drama and confessional nature of the songs are poorly served by the shiny optimism of folk-rock tropes like a 12-string guitar. It becomes annoying, after a while, a chiming Byrds-y riff competing with Lucas’ often dour and moody Neil Young/Elliott Smith-esque lyrics, which have far more in common with the coming tide of rawer and more naturalistic guitar bands than the heady vibes of the the Molochs’ Lolipop labelmates. Lucas’ lyrics speak of trying to “see through the dark clouds in my room with the lights out” but the music is singing an entirely different tune. In a weird way, Sleep in Doom becomes a more intriguing release if you think of it as heralding the shape of things to come rather than as a shadow of sounds quickly becoming passé.
I struggled with the rating on Sleep in Doom because it’s not bad and there’s no reason not to buy it, however it ultimately proved impossible for me get past the rather wishful notion that the Molochs could make more of a statement if they were brave enough to let things fall apart a little bit more. Take b-side “Living in My Mind” as an example. It works as a bluesy psych number, much like the kind we’ve heard again and again, but it might be more compelling if there were more uncertainty about where each note would fall, if every chord weren’t pre-determined—if it didn’t sound like like everything else, basically. Far be it from me to suggest which direction an artist “should” take with their art, so I will simply re-itirate what an Italian male was once heard to say: between here and there is better than either here or there.
Sleep in Doom is officially released on 7/21. The Molochs play a release show in Los Angeles on that same date. See details here.