Published Jul 26, 2018Tony Molina made his name pairing Weezer-esque riffs with a hardcore aesthetic (not to mention song lengths) before changing tack with 2016's Confront the Truth. There, the Bay Area musician turned to the Beatles and Elliot Smith for inspiration, delivering eight songs of sophisticated, acoustic singer-songwriter fare that divided fans.
Heartbreak looms large on Kill the Lights, which further synthesizes its predecessor's influences. Molina pairs his loss with plenty of chiming guitars and intricate vocal harmonies, bringing to mind the Byrds and especially latter-day Teenage Fanclub.
Regardless of his muse, Molina's throughline was a knack for writing hooks that stuck in your head. But here, he manages the once seemingly impossible task of writing ad album's worth of songs that whiz past without leaving the slightest of impressions. Brevity — once a defining feature — is finally working against him. With so much going on in such little space, riffs and refrains barely have the time to develop.
Molina once seemed poised to become a reliable purveyor of sticky throwback pop. But absent the visceral thrill of his early work, or anything new or profound to say about grief and heartache, Kill the Lights offers little more than the sum of its influences. Even with ten songs clocking in at just 15 minutes, I found myself repeatedly scrolling through my iTunes for something that might better hold my attention. Let's hope Molina rediscovers his groove soon. (Slumberland)