Tony Molina’s latest release, Kill The Lights, is a swift, hard-hitting record that will satisfy Molina’s longtime fans and can hit new listeners by surprise. Molina, who has ascended from the San Francisco hardcore/punk DIY scene in recent years, packs a huge punch in Kill The Lights’ ten tracks that span roughly 15 minutes. His use and understanding of dynamics are frequently on display, bouncing seamlessly back and forth between a full-band sound and a stripped down, acoustic set.
The album’s opening track, “Nothing I Can Say,” shows off Molina’s ‘70s rock influences, as the track is led by an upbeat progression and a chorus-laden lead guitar riff. This track is followed up by the gut-wrenching “Wrong Town,” a somber acoustic piece carried home by a beautiful synth melody.
Molina continues to shift between full-band and acoustic arrangements on songs like “Now That She’s Gone,” “Jasper’s Theme” and “When She Leaves,” the latter of which is a testament to Molina’s lyricism. His ability to deal with themes of love and loss in a truly honest, genuine way in under a minute and a half is remarkable. By this point in the (very brief) album, Molina has the listener wrapped around his finger.
“Look Inside Your Mind / Losin’ Touch” stands out as distinct from the combination of acoustic and rock tracks on the record. It’s carried by a jarring, dissident chord progression backed at first by the full band, but the bottom quickly falls out on the audience, confronted once again by just Molina and his acoustic guitar. This song boasts a tremendously emotional, impactful guitar solo that hits home at the perfect time.
Kill The Lights is short, simple and sweet, but there is enough depth here to keep audiences coming back for more. While Molina has continued his march away from his hardcore punk roots, the connective tissue to those roots still remains on Kill The Lights, while Molina has effortlessly branched out into new, uncharted territory.