Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Quick Review Of The Splendid SLUG (Field Music) Record

It seems like an eternity since SLUG gifted us with a magnificent early single but the full-length debut from the group is nearly here. RIPE drops early next week via Memphis Industries. It's a head-scratcher and a foot-stomper and a thorough blast for any fan of music whose tastes run a bit deeper than average. SLUG is really the project of one Ian Black but the presence of the Brewis brothers from Field Music on this record is sure to get the album a lot of well-deserved attention.

From the Zappa-meets-XTC weird new wave stomp of "Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic", to the piano-based instrumental "Peng Peng", and on to the Steely Dan-on-acid noise of "Eggs and Eyes", the cuts here surprise by pulling from a deep well of (worthy) influences. There's both clever invention here as well as a bit of an attitude. The delightfully named "Greasy Mind" recalls nothing so much as a Colin Moulding-led XTC rummaging through the 10cc back catalog. If that sounds like a cool thing, then you're going to like a lot of RIPE...a lot.

Over the course of these 11 spry cuts, Black and the Brewis boys trot out every trick in the studio. If anything, the album is a marvel at sounding too busy. While that could be a knock on another album, here in terms of RIPE it's an acknowledgement of how inventive this project is. "Shake Your Loose Teeth" sounds like China Crisis and even Blue Nile (a bit) before exploding into a big burst of proggy noise. I mention that song as it's a pretty good example of how things progress on this record. Equally catchy and experimental, the musicians behind this record manage to make music that borders on wild pretension without succumbing to any unnecessary nonsense. I evoked Zappa earlier -- and it's an apt comparison in spots -- but there's none of Zappa's poor humor or muso bluster here, for example. Better points of comparison may be Sparks and (again) 10cc.

Fans of Adrian Belew, King Crimson, and XTC (obviously), should be sure to grab RIPE by SLUG as soon as it's released by Memphis Industries next week.

More details on the official SLUG Facebook page.