In past years Slow Down Molasses felt more like a loose collective than a band, with various friends and peers chipping in to help bring singer/guitarist Tyson McShane’s musical vision to life. That has changed with 100% Sunshine, as the musicians who toured behind 2015’s Burnt Black Cars also play on the new record (McShane is joined by drummer Jordan Kurtz, bassist Chris Morin, guitarist/keyboardist Aaron Scholz, guitarist Levi Soulodre and keyboardist/singer Jeanette Stewart). With the chemistry that comes from extensive touring, Slow Down Molasses are a tighter unit than ever, which in turn lends a sense of urgency to the new music. It’s as if the contrast in the band’s sonic portrait has been tweaked: the whites are brighter, the blacks denser.
Produced by Chad Munson and mixed in Glasgow by Tony Doogan (best known for his work with Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian), 100% Sunshine channels the bleaker side of indie rock, evoking shoegaze, dream-pop, psychedelic rock and darkwave at once. “Moon Queen” is a superblast of searing noise in true early-1990s form, contagious four-on-the-floor rock’n’roll underscored by waves of drone and feedback. Underneath the seeming effervescence is crippling melancholy, as McShane drawls, “I do not believe that we share the same dream / As you’re flying high and I’m sitting here, just burning out.”
The rampaging “New Release” weaves heavy rock, shoegaze and gothic elements skilfully, coming across as a mix of the Cure’s “A Forest” and Swervedriver’s “Last Train to Satansville”, the two sides creating a dynamic give-and-take hinting at inner conflict. “Levitation Sickness” hearkens back to the glory days of 1990s indie rock, its massive layers of guitars reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr., Sugar and Sebadoh. The Slint-esque “No Riots” and the post-punk flavoured “Ghosts & Vodka” date back nearly two decades, a constant presence in McShane’s songwriting arsenal yet only now finding the arrangements – and musicians – to make the tracks work on record. As the Rachel Goswell to McShane’s Neil Halstead, Stewart helps bring the album to a sublime denouement on the fittingly Slowdive-esque “You Made Me a Ghost”, her gentle, heavily reverbed, barely comprehensible singing giving the song an air of mystery and ethereality.
November 5th at Gaukurinn 22:30 (Iceland Airwaves)
November 6th Dillion at 18:15 (Iceland Airwaves)