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paved with good intentions
Mollycuddle
Paved with Good Intentions
Guilt Ridden Pop

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Minnesota's Mollycuddle, who parted ways on my sister's birthday, were an extremely good American rock band. You can tell from the groups with whom they played (Sukpatch, Elizabeth Elmore, Yo La Tengo, Promise Ring, Magnetic Fields, Sean Na Na, Marine Research) that they were also a hard band to pigeonhole during their six years of rocking. Critics usually lumped them among neighboring emo rock bands, but Mollycuddle were more accurately a fusion of all the best musical trends that emo, indie pop and indie rock have offered over the past decade. "Got Good Skin of Skyscraper", the first track from this fine farewell disc, is a good example, as it pairs a classic Sargey/Superchunky melody against Sara Aase's Tullycrafty vocals, and receives a closing jolt of extra power from fellow singer Tommy Kim's Braid-like interjections. An interesting blend, it succeeds by intent or luck in generating maximum power from the group's songs, making them the natural AC DC for any Wolfie diehard. This might sound way off or odd, but if you check out the band's website you'll notice the links to both big and brawny music labels from the Midwest and cute mags like Maxi and Robotica.

The way that Mollycuddle display the many sides of their personalities is, I suppose, one reason to find fault with them. Rather than work many juxtapositions between their lyrics and music, Mollycuddle have always taken a fairly conservative, laissez-faire approach, relying mainly upon the sound of Sara's voice (or her girl-boy duets with Tommy) to bring out their uniqueness. It's hard to attack them for this, as I love the results, but I'm certain that the tracks would seem less fluffy if the melodies or lyrics suggested their personalities more. The work they've done is catchy and engaging, with some great guitar play, but it is far from adventurous, with songs a little too stuck upon the same chords. And their lyrics -- a stringing-together of phrases like "mixing metaphors with cliches" -- they exist for sonic interplay, not narrative sense.

Such quibbles, though, do not greatly affect your listening pleasure. Track after track, release after release, Mollycuddle always brought some temporary joy or feeling to life, albeit sometimes in a semi-disposable way. On Paved With Good Intentions, Mollycuddle shows a greater range and musical variety; there are moments where keyboards enter, or when Tommy steps up to the mic and plays balladeer. Such touches, all of them welcome, make it impossible not to wish that the band had stayed around a little longer, because theirs was a fantastic story far from done. I hope their legacy is carried on, and made even more enticing, by each of the band members' future endeavors.

-- Theodore Defosse
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