It’s been a little over 10 years since I first sampled the delights of Molly Bloom’s music and to this day I am grateful to Owen Davies who suggested I might check them out. So back in 2004 following on from his pointer, I reviewed two releases from the band, namely their self-titled debut and the Green Fence EP, both self-released and in CDR formats. Now as those original releases are no longer available and certainly didn’t enjoy the success they richly deserved, it is great to see, that alongside the new material, some earlier tracks are being re-aired on this, the band’s first commercially produced CD.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Molly Bloom were formed in 2000 and released the aforementioned debut in 2002 with the EP the following year. From those early recordings the line-up of Stephen Dundon (flute & vocals), Tyrion Moses (guitars & vocals) and Derek Smith (bass & vocals) remain, with the only change being drummer Andy Hunt. If Molly Bloom were a difficult band to pigeonhole ten years ago, they are even more difficult to categorise now as their music is a potpourri of fragrances encompassing folk rock and medieval music through punk and new wave, detouring through reggae and ska and healthy doses of metal and yes, prog! So safe to say the music has not lost any of its quirky charm, wry sense of humour, power and edge. In fact the music Molly Bloom, 2014, has developed a distinctly muscular edge and despite some early misgivings, All Pressure retains all those elements that first attracted me to the band’s music. How the band manage to combine such a diverse mélange of styles and come out with something that is both fascinating and a joy to listen to, remains a mystery. So onto the music…
After a grungy guitar intro Last One Rings Out bursts out with a brief Sabbath-like riff before opting for an upbeat and choppy ‘rocksteady’ groove for the verses with Steve Dundon’s engaging and idiosyncratic vocal delivery dragging you headlong into the music. Now it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to realise that these guys know how to play and Tyrion Moses’ brief but tuneful solo section captures the moment. Another thing that struck me early on was, it would appear, that these tracks have been recorded with the minimum of overdubs and studio manipulation. Suffice to say that the raw energy of their live shows is captured and even the guitar feedback is allowed to remain here.
Run If You Want To continues with driving riffs and the first taster of Steve Dundon’s exquisite flute work. A great rock song in every sense of the word. Next track Mistress Winter is a firm live favourite and coincidentally the first song I heard from the band all those years ago. Gone from those original recordings is the accordion, but still motoring the track on is the acoustic guitar and the infectious drum beat.
Come Creeping is as close as the band come to a ‘power ballad’. The picked acoustic guitar and delicate flute introduction would not have been out of place on the Green Fence EP, however as the track moves forward the gritty guitars leave behind those more unplugged days. Again a track of twists and turns and again Tyrion Moses produces more of his infectious guitar work. Under The Bed returns us to the choppier, live and kicking, Molly Bloom…
In stark contrast the medieval opening of the instrumental piece, Molly Bloom, would have sat very comfortably on many an early Jethro Tull album. A delightful instrumental performed with grace and elegance on acoustic guitar and flute. Although worth hanging onto your seatbelts as at around the three minute mark the band kick in with two minutes of breath-taking music. If All Pressure ended here it would be a great album, but there’s still so much more to come. Blood opens with rippling acoustic guitar and once again some fantastic flute, although when the band arrive this time we are in much heavier terrain.
I’m delighted to see Green Fence given another airing. For this new version the tempo and power quotients are moved up a notch or two and rhythmically the verses are like ska on steroids. Green Fence 2014 however boasts an additional four plus minutes of music in the form of an atmospheric instrumental section – encompassing the flavour of the middle instrumental from Deep Purple’s Fool cunningly performed by Messrs Summers, Sting and Copeland. There’s no supporting video for All Pressure, but this footage from ‘Apocalypse Now’ recorded at Bury’s The Met captures the band in full flow. Sadly the audio isn’t wonderful here.
She took the house, and took the car
I swear this woman’s ruthless
If I wore dentures, she’d travel far
to leave my mouth all toothless
I mentioned early about the band’s wry sense of humour and the inclusion of If captures this superbly. Now there have been many songs of ‘love that is lost’, but you can’t really fault lyrics that touch on the subject in such a moving way:
There’s not a lot of music that makes me want to smile these days – but Molly Bloom’s does!
If is a great track, full of little twists and turns and I love the way Andy Hunt and Derek Smith pull it all together. This has been a favourite song for a long time now – can’t see that changing much in the future.
As mentioned earlier the band has a captured the raw energy and live feel throughout and I certainly wouldn’t want to be near the front of the stage when the final two tracks, Lock ‘Em Up and All Pressure are played. Enough said…
So in wrapping up this review you may well have gathered that this album has pressed all the right buttons for me – and you would be right. In purely progressive terms All Pressure may not sit well with all, (does anything sit well with all?) – and some may be initially put off by this strange and heady brew – but you really should check this album out as Molly Bloom have once again demonstrated their distinct and unique voice – a voice that is full of energy, great musicianship and humour.
01. Last One Rings Out (3:31)
02. Run If You Want To (3:43)
03. Mistress Winter (3:05)
04. Come Creeping (5:55)
05. Under The Bed (2:46)
06. Molly Bloom (4:50)
07. Blood (4:05)
08. Green Fence (7:44)
09. If (4:42)
10. Lock ‘Em Up (3:40)
11. All Pressure (4:42)
Total Time: 48:43
Andy Hunt – Drums & Vox
Derek Smith – Bass & Vox
Steve Dundon – Vox & Flute
Tyrion Moses – Guitar & Vox
Record Label: Independent Release
Year Of Release: 2014
Main Website: Molly Bloom
Social Media: Facebook
Recorded: Hilltown Studios