Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
I love split releases. The combinations of tracks dictate a shared space between artists, a collaboration that can be as artificial or as thematically organic as the groups desire. Like a fresh August breeze, relieving the heat, ACAB Rocky and Molly Drag have teamed up tones and summer tans with a stellar split, released by Hellur Records and Sleep On It Records.
Last thing’s first: Toronto’s Molly Drag offer up simplicity itself. On “Devil’s Night 1998,” the band uses nuanced backing vocals and an ocarina-like synth to elucidate a churning rhythm of guitar repetition, an enduring sound. A story of the “teenage scene” trickles out like sweet water, a tender protrayal of drugs and introversion. Following in similar, confessional style, “Intensive Care (I See You)” possesses extreme intimacy with the listener. The music itself breathes distance, the echoes of guitar stepping back from the closeness of the lyric to the audience, with no percussion to direct the flow of melody and words in a direct path. Molly Drag have a couple of sultry tunes to offer the split, interesting for their laid back delivery.
I’ve written about ACAB Rocky’s last release before, but the two tracks offered up here are a different layer of atmosphere than anything seen on the full length — more troposphere than mesosphere. “I Shaved My Head (for S.M.)” is a love letter, perhaps, full of assertive statements that build until they fall apart. The gorgeously interwoven breakdown of melodic picking tilt-a-whirls a response to Sam Wells’ open-ended setting, producing an easy ambiguity. The more trotting tune of the split is “Drag Me.” The song is full of sharpness and impact, with choruses that cut in with the most distorted guitar on the entire split release. Though Sam’s melancholy, earnest vocal continues to play it smooth above the driving drums and picked eighth notes.
This split is a lot of fun. It almost threatens a tone of autumn; but as I sat in a torrential downpour last night, my clothing that was caught in the storm but an hour ago drying on the chair beside me, I heard these songs, and they felt right. The rain is a part of the summer too, with its quiet, washed-out sensibility that seems so disparate from the warm mood days and lakeside extroversion. ACAB and Molly Drag understand that a summer album can be a lot of things. Give this one a listen and see if you agree.
Top Track: “Drag Me”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)