by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Philary, aka Alex Molini, has played in a lot of bands and has contributed to even more (sometimes credited... sometimes not). He's earned a reputation as both artist and producer, placing emphasis on both songwriting and tonality. As a member of Jackal Onasis, Stove, and formerly Dirty Dishes, he's developed a signature sound that is both heavy and melodic, turning pop music phrasing to sludge and distortion. Bummer. is Philary's debut (and Molini's first official solo album), a quick five songs that deal with overt heartbreak and the drive to move forward.
Despite the immediate metaphor that compares Molini's life to that of a cookie on opening track, "The Discouraging Snack," the song is more than sugary fleeting pleasure. Opening with a slow pulse of synths and processed melodies that wave back and forth with hypnotic calm. That sense of ease is only momentary though, as the emotional darkness takes over, a whirring swirl of devastation builds and fades, leading into a bridge that excepts life as cookie or carrot, caught between chaos and complacency. "Alternative" is awash in wonky shoegaze, floating through dissonant changes and atmosphere, with a steady melody that fuses together the overdriven guitars and Molini's sweetly melancholic vocals. The discordant haunt of "Smother" is both hypnotic and unsettling, a sour mood in audio. Molini balances the grim with thickly reverberating vocals, creating a weightless dreamscape, caught once again juxtaposing the light and darkness that comes from heartbroken bursts of creativity.
Split between feeling like sad lump of dirt ("Turn Off My Brain") and ruminating in sadness ("Pretty Slow"), there's a contrast to his despair, the former a soft piano driven ballad that's sparse and still claustrophobic, and the later a crushing and dynamic burner, gradually crawling its way from the bottom into a surge of cathartic noise and blistering sludge. Both songs are self aware that moping around are not the solution, but they offer that sentiment in different context. Molini ends "Turn Off My Brain" with an apathetic and withered "so now just shut up and get over it," but Bummer.'s final thought rests in "Pretty Slow." Molini sings, "It's back again / plotting my end / nah, it's not that bad though / let go / don't let your sadness eat you" and from there the tension builds, piece by carefully distorted piece, into it's own strength in release. Philary's debut excepts a degree of depression without letting it consume him. It's a bummer, but life moves on.