Let’s get it out of the way quickly, because it is not a point upon which it is worth to dwell – Mollie Marriott is the daughter of the legendary Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie) and the step-daughter of singer Joe Brown, both of which might suggest a certain lineage. It might even suggest, to the casual observer, the sound that might be expected from ‘truth is a wolf’, Mollie’s stunning debut album, but that would be a mistake, because Mollie has her own style, her own sound and, crucially, her own set of influences. In short, lineage be damned, this is Mollie’s album, and her personality is stamped all over the ten tracks (twelve on the deluxe edition) on offer here. Interestingly, Mollie herself identifies as a grunge girl in the press materials, citing Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam as particular influences, and it’s notable that for all the classic rock touchstones that Mollie and her band allow into the music, there’s always a slightly twisted, rather more modern vibe at work, that allows the album to turn in unexpected directions.
Right from the moment the huge, kick-drum stomp of ‘Control’ bursts upon you, there’s a rich vitality to ‘truth is a wolf’ that is impossible to ignore. Mollie’s voice is introduced first, the band held in check so that they can breathe colour into a chorus so gloriously alive it makes you want to dance around the room. Despite the modern feel of the instrumentation, it’s that rich, gospel sensibility that Mollie and her band have tapped into on ‘control’, and it is joyful indeed. Part soul singer, part Alanis Morisette, ‘broken’ is a deeply personal song written for Mollie’s daughter, that is given greater depth by the washes of electric guitar that flood over the chorus. Written by Gary Nicholson and Bonnie Hayes, ‘truth is a wolf’ is a wonderful piece of music that feels as if it was tailor-made for Mollie. In her song guide, she states that she first heard it in Nashville and immediately knew it was the track for her, and it clearly inspired something in Mollie, for it is a stand-out track and it’s easy to see how it became the album’s signature song with its lush howls and gorgeous melody. Paul Weller even appears to lend a hand, although he gracefully fades into the background, leaving Mollie centre stage, his presence adding grandeur to the song without detracting from its star. Slinky and smooth, it’s a song destined to become an all-time classic and Mollie’s reading of it is a thing of graceful beauty. Arguably the closest the album comes to sounding how one might expect it to sound, ‘give me a reason’ is a pretty song, but it lacks the originality found elsewhere. The first half of the album concludes with ‘run with the hounds’, a gorgeous piece of pop music with a chorus that soars heavenwards on the back of melodies rich in emotion.
Edging away from the more traditional territory of the two tracks which precede it, ‘love your bones’ recalls nothing so much as the remarkable, stripped-down performance Trent Reznor delivered on his ‘Still’ EP, with electronic percussion and piano providing the primary backing for the piece. An easy highlight, it allows Mollie to demonstrate both her range and her eclectic tastes and the result is electrifying. The track segues neatly into the downbeat beauty of ‘transformer’, a track which sees the aforementioned Pearl Jam influences coming to the fore with its grizzled guitar and cleverly constructed chorus. It’s an odd jump, but perhaps Mollie would forgive me when I suggest that ‘fortunate fate’ brings to mind the pop-rock of the most underrated Verruca Salt (‘circa ‘eight arms to hold you’) with its lovely melody subtle, alternative vibe and wah-infused guitar. Another track to feature Paul Weller, ‘king of hearts’ is a moment of sheer brilliance with its somnolent beat, echoing, Massive Attack-esque guitars and dusky vocal. It leads neatly into album closer ‘my heaven can wait’, an emotionally-charged and bitter-sweet finale that leaves the listener in no doubt as to Mollie’s myriad talents.
‘Truth is a wolf’ is a remarkable debut form a remarkable artist. Mollie’s instincts rarely play her false, and the only moment where the album dips a touch is where she opts for the somewhat traditional strains of ‘give me a reason’. Elsewhere, guitars blaze, subtle electronica is utilised, and huge waves of harmony pour over the listener to create a rich and varied musical experience which is far greater than the sum of its parts. Whilst Mollie’s stunning voice would always prove to be a draw, what makes this record special is how she draws upon her own influences, crafting an album that is modern, relevant and, frequently, satisfyingly different. It is also amazingly concise, the tracks short and the overall run-time a mere forty-minutes. It is enough, however, and it leaves the listener very much wanting more. 9