With a band name like Slow Down Molasses, you might expect something dense, incomprehensible and dirge-like. However, this Canadian band, while basking in dreamy, psychedelic and shoegaze atmospherics, is decidedly upbeat and complex, musically exploring the vast expanses of their Saskatoon homeland. And speaking of origins, their song “Home” is the second single from their new album Burnt Black Cars, just released last month on Culvert Music/Caroline International. What begins as a sweet melody becomes more thickly layered as it goes along, with multiple voices joining in towards the end as a choral celebration.

This third full-length release follows the quintet’s 2012 album Walk Into the Sea. In these new songs, there are pretty melodic interludes and heavy synth excursions, woven into intricate compositions deserving of deep immersion and repeat listens. Dreamy vocals drift in and out, tying it all together. The inspiration comes from a series of photographs taken by the father of Tyson McShane (guitar, piano vocals) that captured the anti-capitalist protests in Paris in 1968. Its overriding themes are “the chaos and wild-eyed optimism of the time.” He explains, “Much of my adult life has felt as though it’s taking place in a time that’s at least as conflicted as the one my dad documented. Burnt Black Cars takes inspiration from May ’68, but it’s more about the way conflict and struggle are an omnipresent backdrop to modern life, and about the normal, human moments that still manage to shine through.”

The album was produced by Jac Lasek of the Besnard Lakes, and is their first album to have a proper international, actual label release. They’ve been playing and performing together since 2007, and have played at many international showcases and festivals, including SXSW, The Great Escape, NXNE, Halifax Pop Explosion, Nouvelle Prague and CMJ. They’ve also toured across Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

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