In the 1980s we were obsessed with aliens. But whilst films took them home, music invited them into our living rooms and electro-synthpop crash-landed onto the music scene with one of the best instrumental goodie-bags of the 20th Century.
Firmly dipping into that goodie-bag more than 30 years on, synth-siren Molina’s debut EP, Corpus, sounds like it has been hunkered away in a bunker somewhere waiting for its time to capture the imagination of a new generation of synthpop fans. Released Friday (March 24) via Kill J’s label, No 3 Records, Corpus pulls off the trick of feeling nostalgic without being hackneyed.
It has all the pace and originality of the early electro-pop pioneers complete with Kraftwerk-style sound effects and laser-light shows yet it has the heart of a pop-princess more akin to Cyndi Lauper and Kate Bush than the automaton of the Kraftwerk robots. The result is an imaginative, peculiar arrangement of sounds that are as much unexpected as they are memorable.
The six songs that comprise Corpus are all unique without sounding disjointed. “Dream Original” is an atmospheric prologue that builds in pace and excitement like the march to war in some futuristic battle for the galaxy. You can’t help but picture cyborgs in spandex; then Molina’s saccharine vocals pierce it through with a monotonous battle-cry that disarms – and you are left wondering, “Oh god, what am I in for?”
“Dream Original”‘s call to arms is dashed through by “Are They Gold?” gorgeous indie-inspired guitar melody with Molina’s vocals providing an edgy contrast dripping with attitude. It is a completely different pace and approach to the first track and yet sustains some of the space-like atmosphere becoming almost melancholy in some of the instrumentals.
The next track, “Vaporized”, is a return to pace. The second single off the EP, its driving drum beat and sparse, but well placed sound effects produces a result that is both melodic and cutting. It is as impersonal as “Are They Gold?” is passionate and the contrast is intriguing, showcasing Molina’s unique creative range.
“Hey Girl” is a little pop pill that once again sees Molina take a different musical approach without betraying her electronica roots. With a Japanese-inspired melody and even pan pipes (!?) it is the most subtle of the tracks on the EP, almost wistful yet with a killer vocal hook like a sharp stab to the ear.
Then the curiously named “Meat Monster” sweeps in like a classic club track, so distinctive is the synth, before that cutting drum beat, used to great effect throughout the EP, pulls it in a completely different direction so that it almost feels dirty. And yet again light and infectious. It is an enigma of a track, as unusual as its name suggests.
Finally “Salvation”, and after “Meat Monster” it feels like a coming home as Molina returns to her surprising and tantalising form.
If you have managed to find the full 19 minutes it takes for Corpus to play out, by “Salvation” you will either be begging for more or so completely exhausted by its twists and unexpected turns that you will need a quiet room to lie down in. Either way you won’t have escaped the true genius of this EP.
It is less a collection of songs and more a piece of performance art that utilises sounds, both instrumental and vocal to create a reaction, to be engaged in not listened to. And yet, as I said at the beginning, there is also a simplistic 80s pop heart beating at the centre that means it is artistic without being precocious or self-serving.
Corpus is aptly named then, for it is a body of work that I think firmly establishes Molina as one of the most creative emerging artists of 2017. Molina’s Corpus EP can be downloaded on iTunes and Spotify.
Words by Leander Hobbs