The Flashpot Moments - s/t
Tim Cawley, the musical force behind this project, is a one man songwriting factory on this release. He has a number of top flight musicians working with him on The Flashpot Moments’ eleven songs, but he’s the beating heart of the project and emerges from this release as one of the most compellingly talented figures in this genre at an indie or mainstream level. His mastery of the melodic hard rock form is total and it never comes off as sophomoric or shallow. This is a genre with some standard tropes, for sure, but Cawley’s songwriting and the gusto pushing his performances never cheapens these elements and, instead, reinvigorates them with the sheer force of his personality. This long-simmering project comes off not because it panders to the listeners. Instead, The Flashpot Moments works because it is unfailingly honest and doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t.
“Places Unknown” is the anthemic curtain opener than Cawley undoubtedly hopes it is. He mixes up the musical approach enough to keep you listening, but getting the audience on its feet is the clear motivation here and he hits all the right notes to pull that off. The production brings these songs roaring out of your speakers, but there’s a warm intimacy in the sonic approach that never overwhelms you. “Strangers Dance” is a perfect example of that ideal. The pairing of guitars and keyboards on this gets its great melody off the ground from the start and listeners who move along with the piece will universally enjoy themselves. The two tracks “’Splode (The Party Prelude)” and “Abigail, Mispronounced (The Party Aftermath)” tell a story with varying tempos and textures invariably centered on the same sort of guitar work filling the remaining nine songs, but there’s much more of an unified vocal presentation between the two songs than you might find on the other tracks, or at least different.
The album’s second half embraces more of a hard rock vibe than the first. “The Learning Curve” and “Hands Up!” are packed with a lot of explosive guitar and comes blasting out of the speakers with rambunctious energy that’s impossible to ignore, but there’s an even harder edge on the second tune that will impress fans of rough and ready guitar. “Satisfaction Isn’t” looks more back to the melodic end of the spectrum, but track “Can’t Wait To Find Out” strikes the best balance between melodic and hard rock on the album despite coming in relatively late. The unhappiness of the lyric is a late surprise, as well, but the song is never a drag thanks to the immensely engaging vocal from Cawley. The album closes with a big number, “The Last Stand”, far longer than anything that’s come before it, but Cawley handles the extended running time with every bit of the same absence of self-indulgence and the vivid spirit filling the album’s earlier songs. This is one of the best debuts in recent memory. The Flashpot Moments doesn’t content itself with imitating a style; it takes an established musical style, instead, and claims it as its own, as if they are the first to do it.
9 out of 10 stars