The brash, loud sound of SLA on even the first track of their pseudo-eponymous album makes a good case for them to be put alongside all the post-psychedelic acts (Love, the MC5) and above the hack retro rock revival bands (The Strokes). The vocals of Dylan on many a track provide the topping that makes the act so special; with a hint of Alice Cooper and a dollop of Mick Jagger, Dylan makes almost every track on this record a hit. The tracks are nearly the perfect length; considering that much of the garage rock exists with a high amount of repetition, the fact that SLA comes out with tracks that hover around the three or three and a half minute mark means that fans will seldomly feel any sense of boredom.
The shrill guitar solos that mark many a track on the album provide the perfect accompaniment for Dylan’s vocals while acting antagonistically to Jerry’s drums. The retro sound that SLA comes up with on this album may seem a better fit for the sixties, but the miraculous production that pops in listeners’ ears gives this venerable style a new lease on life. In a sense, tracks like “Lower Bottom” even move up the rock timeline a few years as they incorporate arrangements from both the Kansas / Outlaws period and the early-eighties L.A. hair metal scene. However pop-infused these SLA tracks are, there is still a distinct sense that “Sonic Love Affair” does not have one or two hits that could conceivably bring SLA into the stratosphere. The average track is strong, that is true but nothing really makes any effort to distinguish itself from the rest of the songs on the disc.
By approaching the album process with an album-oriented focus, SLA has made something that is overall strong but ultimately forgettable; there is no “Kick Out The Jams” to keep the band’s name in the collective memory for thirty-plus years. Saying that however, SLA does come up with some fun rock tracks, especially considering the fun nature of “Junkyard Heart”. The style of music means that SLA would be an excellent live band, as the energy exerted in the set is far beyond reproach. Here’s hoping some true hits are present on the band’s next album, in addition to the solid sound that this album currently enjoys and gives to every individual that listens in.
Top Tracks: Panther Piss, In Your Miss