Friday, February 15, 2019

Record Review //
"The Pact"
(Dangerbird Records) // //

One of the things which bothers me about music is time.   You sit there, at your laptop, at the end of 2018, maybe in late November, and you're so proud of yourself because you've put together a list of your Top X Albums of 2018.   I used to be against such lists and then last year I made one.   Boy did that come back to bite me in the ass.   Part of writing such a list is feeling like you've considered all of your options and yet, here I sit, several months into 2019 and only really aware of this amazing album called "The Pact" by Slothrust now.   What could I possibly have been doing late last year that caused this one to slip by me, I have no idea, but I am disappointed I am not reviewing it until now.  (Though in, like, five years this paragraph will be mostly meaningless, right?)

There's something about making a great rock album.   It's not quite that you have to find the perfect formula ("The ballad goes in the 8 spot!") or combination of songs, it's more of a state of mind.    From the first note to the last, you want people to know that this is your sound, this is what you're playing for the world to hear and if someone doesn't like it that's too bad.    "The Pact" opens up with this unique rock song called "Double Down" which is about doing what you want and it just sets the tone.   Lines like "I chill by myself" make me feel like that Highasakite song "I Call Bullshit" only this makes me want to go outside more somehow.   With the doo doot doo's and whistling in the chorus there is a sense of Joan Jett right away; this album is just badass from the first note.

"Peach" is the second song which has this glorious dreamy quality to it but yet the word combinations feel random at times.   I mean, they all seem deliberate, sure, and they make sense within the context of the song but it's not the way songs are traditionally structured with their lyrics (aka The Story of Slothrust)  The song really takes that feeling of nostalgia, of remembering, and puts a sound to it.    This blissed out, upbeat feeling like you're in the clouds will likely not leave you prepared for the next song, "Planetarium", but I don't know if anything could prepare you for such a song.

Distorted guitar notes drop in like Black Sabbath and then we're going a hundred miles an hour.    There is an essence of grunge to this, perhaps some era of Nirvana, but just the way the distortion opens up and is played so fast is something you don't hear as much these days within rock music that also can just feel as big as "The Pact" does.  The chorus sings: "Have you ever faked sick before / Cause I'm faking it right now" and that can just be taken so many different ways from remembering days you didn't go to school and stayed home "sick" to being sick and faking it in real life with other people (Such as me when I have to go outside)   For the record though, planetariums are cool.

Through the guitar solos come "blah blah blah" sounds to keep the music going and, yeah, this is not something you hear every day and it's one of the best songs you'll likely hear in the 21st Century.    "Walk Away" has this great melody and I get tongue-twisted still trying to sing along with:"But I can't so I don't and I won't walk away" which is probably why I'm not a singer.     "Birthday Cake" is an acoustic number with dark lyrics, as it starts off about lying about wanting to die (There's a "If I'm lying I'm dying" line to be made here somewhere but I can't find it) and "For Robin" has horns, a piano and harmonica at different times.   It's got this pop rock vibe to it as well.

Slower acoustics take us into "The Haunting", which has a fitting title, and it reminds me a bit of Cowboy Junkies.   At first, "New Red Pants" can start off sounding like a Bon Jovi western but it eventually kicks into this heavy distortion and I enjoy the line:  "I'm not into romance / I'm into blood"   "Fever Doggs" has that slacker distortion at first, like Wheatus, but then it kicks in heavy and the lines "Always bad / never good" break down wild and just turns into this screaming/repeating "never good".    I'm not entirely sure how Leah Wellbaum manages that one, but it is truly something which needs to be heard and makes her an extraordinary human being as well.

"On My Mind" somehow comes out like this Sinead O'Connor ballad and then the sax even kicks in with a solo.    "Some Kind Of Cowgirl" has these big steel drums and of course I pull out the lines "I think bad things / I host bad thoughts" and "I'm sorry for my jokes about dying / I said that I'm not afraid but I'm lying / And now I feel lonelier than I did before"   The album closes with a song full of guitar notes called "Travel Bug" and this is one of those essential albums I feel like everyone needs to hear at least once in their life but if you're anything like me you'll be listening to this one every day.