EP Review: Molteno – Element 1

Molteno is a London-based bedroom pop singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who Jane discovered for us way back in 2018. Now she’s back on the blog with her debut EP, a meditation on the positives and negatives of fire. It’s called Element 1. Here’s my track by track review.

By Graeme Smith

Feature Photo by Simone Meissel and Laura Viana

The EP opens with the moody, low notes of Ignis. Reversed vocals give a sense of eeriness while synth notes fade in and out. The whole piece is over in less than a minute, but it beautifully sets the scene for what is to come.

Our House Is On Fire comes next, and introduces Molteno’s soulful vocals. Full of longing, she holds notes impeccably during a stripped back intro. From the first chorus, percussion joins in, creating a slow groove against which a story of love burned up unfolds. The patient listener is awarded with licks of electric guitar as it reaches its climax.

Track three is Tripping Up, opening with instrumentals that feels like slowed down drum and bass. The lyrics feel confessional, lamenting mistakes and missteps. Bass notes provide interesting texture as the track hits its second verse and I’m impressed by how Molteno makes each note work in her arrangements. Nothing is wasted. Nothing feels overdone.

The EP’s penultimate track is Illuminate. The brightest track so far, it showcases the more positive side of Molteno’s sound. The tempo canters along while layers of synths drape over one another. The lyrics speak of indecision tempered with self-discovery. Long, mournful cello notes interweave with the electronic instrumentals to great effect. It’s a highlight.

Things are drawn to a close by Who’s Crazy. Gentle percussion lead you by the ear. The vocals are delicately delivered but contain a bite of admonishment. It speaks of having had enough, especially during a chorus where notes bend like a head swimming with anger.

It’s frankly criminal that we haven’t kept up with Molteno for the last four years. She’s such an incredible talent. I’m glad that this EP has reintroduced her sound to us. I’m sure it will win her a lot more fans, especially among those who are partial to Bat For Lashes or Björk. You can check out the whole of Element 1 below.