The Inconclusive Portrait is Swedish four-piece Molior Superum‘s first offering since their 2012 full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and it shows the Gothenburg-based unit in a somewhat different light. Released on 7″ vinyl by H42 Records — 340 copies; 140 on black vinyl, 100 green, 50 gold exclusive to the label, and 50 die-hards on clear-purple vinyl with different art — it’s just two songs, or even two parts of one title-track, but it’s both fuller in its tone and more modern than the long-player, and the shift in style is audible. The lineup of guitarist/vocalist Carl Isaksson,guitarist Oskar Öberg, bassist/vocalist Lars Sandström and drummer/vocalist Jens Fuglede hasn’t changed, and they still bear some sonic resemblance to the UK’s Stubb, but where that band’s second album found them searching for a more natural, psychedelic meditation, Molior Superum have turned expectation on its head and opted for a more straightforward feel, less boogie (which is different from none at all), more direct dynamic between the two guitars and a thrust of groove that gives their hooks an urgency that serves the short release well.
Both sides of The Inconclusive Portrait — simply “Part 1″ and “Part 2″ on back of the 7″ sleeve — begin at a rush. Vocalist Joakim Segerfelt Steby of Brutus guests on “Part 1,” which is the shorter of the two, announcing its stylistic turn immediately in a modern-sounding crash and fuzz push that moves quick into the first verse. Understand, Molior Superum are still indebted to the heavy ’70s for a lot of their methods and influence, but it’s a more current feel that permeates the single than did the album. If you want to relate it to other Swedish bands, it’s more Greenleaf than Graveyard, and it works for Molior Superum, whose energy bleeds through the recording as plain to hear as the riffs themselves. Steby‘s contributions mesh smoothly, and a current of backing organ (or something thereabouts) fleshes out the chorus of “Part 1″ almost in a call and response to the vocals amid the fury of chugging. At just over five minutes, “Part 2″ would seem to have room for the band to flesh out some, but instead, they keep the high-impact spirit of “Part 1″ pulsing through for the duration with no real letup either in vibe or volume. “Part 2″ isn’t a direct continuation of “Part 1″ from what I can tell, but if Molior Superum were to play one into the next live, I’m sure it would sound close enough to make sense, as it does when one listens to the single digitally, without having to flip the record.
There’s something brash about “Part 2″ that makes it stand out. Its central riff is hook enough, and they put it to work, but there’s an intensity to it that feels even more prevalent than on “Part 1,” a guitar solo kicking in late before a return to the chorus, and the whole band taking what in another context, perhaps slower, would almost certainly be vintage swing and setting it to kick-in-the-teeth pace. As it is, it distinguishes Molior Superum from a still-growing league of ’70s worshipers and is a credit to the recording job by Micke Nilsson (ex-Bonafide) at Music a Matic for helping to foster this level of performance. A lot can happen to a band in two years, and I wouldn’t necessarily have expected Molior Superum to make the turn they do here, or to pull it off so well, but I think it makes them stronger, and perhaps most importantly, it builds intrigue for what they might do next. It’s a quick, eight-minute release, but says a lot about the band’s hopefully ongoing development.