The Molotovs – And The Heads Did Roll

The Molotovs - And The Heads Did Roll

I heard The Molotovs for the first time earlier this summer, and “Flowers”  is the best song I think I heard this year. Simultaneously frantic and laid-back, an actually danceable slice of cool, sharp Britbop that manages to recall the giddy heights of 2-Tone, the near chaotic funk experimentalism of 23 Skidoo, the gritted teeth of Babyshambles, the laddish stomp of The Courteeners. A maelstrom of staccatto guitars and drums overlaid with a saxophone break that fell off the back of a taxi taking Sonny Rollins back up to Harlem, 50 years ago, and a lyric devastating in its simplicity: “I bought you some flowers / was that not enough?”.  An absolute,  unambiguous, effervescent, frankly superlative moment of actual pop genius, and only available as a 7′ vinyl near-rarity from the little-known Cool For Cats label up until now. Because here it is, a moment I’ve actually been waiting for – The Molotovs’ first album! Hooray!

But it’s only a 6 track mini-album? Boo! But does that really matter? No! And The Heads Did Roll will, in years, to come find itself very near the top of those lists of of genuinely great albums that were actually good and not just cool because some music journo said they were. Because it is. Opening with “Come To Grief”, whose coldly repetitive keyboard intro breaks suddenly into a claustrophobic tale of thwarted romance and urban angst that’s as accurate a refelction of stressed out inner city Britain than I’ve heard for a while: “it’s a high life in the gutter / more than ever we need each other” runs its thoughtfully constructed lyric, and as album openers go, it is one hugely effective attention grabber, and shows The Molotovs at full strength right from the start. Next track “In Conversation” maintains the momentum with ease, and slips a sinuous keyboard riff around the didactic drum rolls and splintering guitar chords. What is “City Guest” about though? An oblique minor symphony worthy of mid-period Blur, its lyric veers awkwardly towards actual poetics, as if the band had spent their spare time during recording reading William Blake and Phillip Larkin instead of smoking fags and shooting pool: “we’ll hold up our hands in jest / pretend we’re the city’s guest / it’s just like the letters in church” runs the willfully obscure wordage.

Meanwhile, track number 4 is “Flowers” and all I’m prepared to add to the opening paragraph of this review is that the song has no resemblance of any kind to what is the last track on the Psychedelic Furs first album, also titled “Flowers”. Not a very accurate comparison I hear you say, but I found it only too easy to imagine Richard Butler hissing the lyric of a slightly slower version of 5th track “Far Cry From Love”, the one song here that sounds slightly incomplete, but this is a first album after all and it would, after all, be enormously rude of me not to cut these lads a bit of slack wherever it’s neccessary. Throw the rule book out for last track “One Up On Me” though, where The Molotovs really do pull it off with some baffling time signatures, an accordion, and an only too abrupt ending which is doubtlessly engineered to ensure that you, the highly impressed listener, immediately flick your player right back to track one.

I make no apologies here. And The Heads Did Roll is the best album I’ve heard this year and The Molotovs are quite probably the best new UK band of 2010. By turns literate, tuneful, inventive and, most importantly, entertaining, this 6 tracker is a neatly packaged introduction to a fantastically talented new band, one whom we need to hear more from, and soon. Buy two copies, one to keep and one to give to someone you really love.

Flowers” Video

Cool For Cats

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