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Royole FlexPai Review: Hands-on

The Royole FlexPai is the first flexible phone, but it shows that we still have a long way to go before bending your phone becomes routine
Should I Buy The Royole FlexPai?
‘Fun but flawed’ is really the only sensible reaction to the FlexPai right now. The foldable display tech is genuinely impressive, but you can’t escape the feeling that it’s not quite there yet.
Laggy software, a plasticky finish, and worrying evidence of screen burn mean that right now the FlexPai feels like a sign of where phones are going - but proof that they’re not there just yet.

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Tony Molina - Kill the Lights Music Album Reviews

The master of the micro-song goes power pop on an ambitious release whose songs slide along the spectrum from sadness to madness, capturing Molina’s grief over a lost love.

You could listen to Tony Molina’s 2013 solo debut, Dissed and Dismissed, in less time than it takes to boil a pot of pasta. Follow it up with the same year’s Six Tracks EP and 2016’s Confront the Truth, and you’d still be hard-pressed to have your meal plated before all three records were done. To say Molina is a fan of brevity would be a gross understatement—this is a guy who covered a Guided by Voices song that was originally 59 seconds long and made it even shorter. His expediency isn’t merely reflected in his 10-minute albums, however. It’s also evident in his restless artistic exploration, which has seen him vacillate between hardcore and pop-focused bands for the better part of two decades, and make dramatic strides over the course of a short solo discography.

With Dissed and Dismissed, Molina conjured images of Weezer locked in the garage with the car running, desperate to blast their way through the Blue Album before they choked on the fumes. Later, on Confront the Truth, he ricocheted in the opposite direction, condensing the aesthetic breadth of the White Album to seven-inch proportions. But on Kill the Lights, he strikes a happy medium between intimacy and urgency, crafting a splendorous power-pop pastorale that channels Big Star ballads, DreamWorks-era Elliott Smith, and post-grunge Teenage Fanclub.

Where past masters of the micro-song often gave the impression that they were drawing from a bottomless well of inspired scraps, Molina’s compositions sound like the result of painstaking refinement. (As the two-year gap between his records shows, his style of concision takes time.) Unlike Bob Pollard’s madcap collages of fragmented tunes, Molina’s albums feel similar to movie trailers that allow you to discern the overall narrative arc of a film by showing you just a few brief, discrete scenes. On Kill the Lights, he makes gestures toward a classic-rock concept album—complete with an overarching theme, recurring motifs, and an instrumental outro titled “Outro”—while remaining faithful to the lean schematics of hardcore.

There are 10 songs on Kill the Lights, and all of them find Molina in some stage of grief over a lost love, sliding along the spectrum from sadness to madness. But he renders his grayscale moods with a varied, vibrant palette. Lead track “Nothing I Can Say” crystallizes the moment of breakup in deceptively joyous jangle-pop, as if to open the album with its own sardonic theme song. Acoustic serenades like “Now That She’s Gone” and “When She Leaves,” by contrast, are gorgeous and ghostly in equal measure, using their sweet Rubber Soul melodies as balms to numb the intense pain chronicled within. And at nearly two and a half minutes, “Look Inside Your Mind/Losin’ Touch” is the album’s musical and cathartic peak, alternating between serene prog-folk passages and dramatic guitar-solo ascensions.

That rare moment of indulgence makes this album the first Molina solo release to creep just past the quarter-hour mark, and the other conventionally scaled tunes here—like the swooning “Jasper’s Theme”—reinforce the notion that he’s tiring of his reputation as a quick-hit artist. But while Molina teases more elaborate arrangements, the embellishments sometimes have the paradoxical effect of making a song feel incomplete. On the quietly devastating “Wrong Town,” Molina contemplates relocating to a new zip code to avoid running into his ex, but the soothing synth tone that takes over in the last 15 seconds introduces a hint of optimism that’s never contextualized. And winding down the XO-worthy “Afraid to Go Outside” just as it settles into its heavenly church-organ groove simply feels cruel. It’s clear Molina has grand ambitions here. But by confining them to a flyer-sized canvas, Kill the Lights becomes his first record that will have you not just marveling at everything Molina can pack into a 60-second song, but also lamenting what he might be leaving out.

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