Vignettes of dark humour, literary drama and unscreened soundtracks feature in the river-deep debut solo album from Paul Molloy, celebrated guitar shaman of The Coral and co-brainchild of Serpent Power, with the first upbeat cut, Dungaree Day, out today. An irresistible soundtrack to the curtains being drawn on a bright summer’s day, its scant, three minutes of condensed optimism opens the door to The Fifth Dandelion, Molloy’s meticulously crafted, eleven-track long player set for release on Fri 21 August 2020.
Normally, and by nature, a team player – having also played in legendary Liverpool bands, The Zutons, The Stands and formed The Big House with Candie Payne – Molloy’s road to an album that bears only his name meanders through his whole songwriting career, it’s completion a triumph of determination in the face of adversity and interruption. Over two years, spanning a period of heavy touring and book-ended by the deaths of his mother and father, the multi-instrumentalist songwriter took a creative journey into himself, around those he loved and the literature in which he finds solace and inspiration.
Dungaree Day, rung into life by an alarm clock, rushed to Paul Molloy in a burst of happy creativity after his girlfriend had, quite simply, made a quick wardrobe decision one morning. Brimming with the purposely freed-of-care melody brought to life by artists like Harry Nilsson, The Zombies and The Left Banke, the heaped harmonies, bright acoustic guitar and peppy percussion radiates a breezy, welcome warmth.
Molloy says: “It came dead quick; it was loads of fun and a real buzz to write. My girlfriend wears dungarees a lot and it was an off-the-cuff thing, she opened her drawer and just said ‘it’s a dungaree day today’ and it just rushed to me as a song. It opens with the alarm clock as you’re waking up to a new day from a nightmare, triggered by the previous track on the album.”
Molloy’s toes dip frequently into worlds less understood and those portrayed by horror and science fiction writers, sitting to take in the words of authors including HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. These influences weave with differing shades of dark and light through The Fifth Dandelion. In the artist’s own words, immortalised on the album’s artwork, the record is ‘where midnight movies come alive, French horns silhouette the ghouls of forgotten empires, broken bayou river boats murmur Marie Laveau’s name in the still of night. Wild Bill Hicock arm-wrestling Davy Jones in the Jolly Roger.”
Through a recording process that started at home on an old tape machine, but travelled onwards between Coral Caves, where Ian Skelly applied drums, and former-Coral member, Bill Ryder-Jones’ Yawn Studios in West Kirby, the album found Molloy on a journey into his own capabilities as a producer. Toying with sound across strings, brass, diverse percussion techniques and reversed recordings, the artist strived for a distinct, baroque, ‘British speakeasy’ feel, grafting brooding David Lynch-style darkness to sequin-studded Gatsbyesque opulence, all within a labyrinth of fact and fiction. Blanketing it all is a type of comforting, folk-tale lyricism that tips his black, wide-brimmed Fedora to great storytellers like Ray Davies, Steve Marriot and Ronnie Lane.