Slothrust - The Pact

by Nathan Fidler Rating:8 Release Date:2018-09-14
Slothrust - The Pact
Slothrust - The Pact

A fourth album within a six year time period is good going for even the more prolific bands, so Slothrust’s The Pact should be treated as a signal that the Boston-based group want to make the most of the time they have in the spotlight.

The Pact is an album of moods, but as much as that is part of their usual sound, so is the slightly playful side they imbue those moods with. They’ve never been content with sitting still and hammering out an album of similar sounding songs, so why stop now?

You never know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the fun of the album. ‘Double Down’ pumps with a heavy riff and a powerslide, while defiant lyrics lead to what can only be described as a modern-pop interlude for a chorus, with catchy whistling and “doo-doo”ing. Where you might be expecting the underlying guitars to explode into anthemic rock payoff, there is merely a hot, crunchy solo, laid out with little fanfare, and it’s that lack of adherence to the rules which should excite people.

As mischievous as Leah Wellbaum can be - check out ‘Planetarium’ for the slacker line of “Have you ever faked sick before? Cause I’m faking it right now” as well as a boundlessly energetic bass solo - she actually has a fantastic voice. She knows how to use it, too, with the soulful, acoustic ‘Walk Away’ baring the stylings of a noughties R’n’B track at times. Similarly, ‘On My Mind’ is a touching confessional yearning for the past, a slow synth-pop march enhanced by a strained saxophone. Snarls, quips and confident lyrics all seem to fall effortlessly into place.

For some, the idea of an album so scatter-shot in style might be off-putting, and while tracks in isolation might not seem to add up to an album, it works because their is a dedication to keeping the compositions fresh. ‘For Robin’ begins with mournful horns, but acoustic guitars skate the choruses into something more celebratory, while from a grungy opening riff on ‘Fever Doggs’ things get swallowed up by galloping guitars and bass, progressing to something more akin to stoner rock, all before Wellbaum gets lost in her own repeated, bellowed mantra of “Always bad, never good”.

Not only are there few bands who try to do as much as Slothrust, but few manage to make such a success of it. The Pact is their most accomplished set of songs so far, even if it isn’t perhaps their most amusing.

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