August 02, 2004

Molasses "Trouble At Jinx Hotel"

Canadian folkies Molasses have a good heart. I can tell they're really wanting to make beautiful, emotionally powerful music. Their new record Trouble at Jinx Hotel is a soft-spoken, quiet collection of songs that blur the line between slowcore and folk, between Americana and atmospheric. Throw in the fact that they've got a bit of a liberal streak in them--songs like "You Can't Win" (a commentary about September 11th written that day)--and you've got the makings of what should be a rather intelligent record.

But there's one problem: like molasses, Trouble at Jinx Hotel is slow, it's thick, and it's trouble to wade through. No matter how pretty their music is, no matter how sincere their heart is, it still cannot hide the fact that Trouble At Jinx Hotel moves at a pace that, at best, is painfully glacial. It doesn't help that they have ten songs but thirteen title, either, and sometimes it feels as if they're mainly following Low's well-worn path. Their cover of "Trouble In Mind" is powerful and affecting--but the only reason I really like it is because I already love the song.

I'll give Scott Chernoff credit for trying to craft a beautiful album, but ultimately Trouble at Jinx Hotel is disappointingly and unavoidably flat. Perhaps with a little more focus and a little less sanctimony, Molasses' next effort will be a bit more rewarding.

--Joseph Kyle

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