The Slats – Pick It Up (CD)

New-rock in the form of The Strokes and The Hives that does not use clichéd guitar lines and arrangements lifted off the Rolling Stones to maintain relevancy, The Slats seem honest and hard working. They are able to create compelling, well-arranged and well-mastered tracks that do not seem insincere in the least. For example, “The Diabetic Coma” simultaneously mixes The Ramones and Weezer, allowing for a seamless move through genres. This experimental nature only bodes well for the act, as each part of The Slats are masters of their own realms, with great instrumental radio-play and a flair for pop that manifests itself in songs the will not be forgotten easily. Mixing in radio-ready tracks with impressive instrumental tracks, The Slats continue to innovate and keep the album flowing. Even when a track is slow in tempo, such as “Ice Queen”, listeners can hang onto B Cox and Jon’s vocals, which both have the sugary sweetness of Rivers Cuomo and the primeval growl of early Iggy Pop.

The crunchy guitars of “Mouth Like A Shogun” seem more fitted for Lightning Bolt or The Locust than The Slats, and they make a miracle in incorporating a laid back Devo/Bob Marley-style of vocals that bob on top of the guitar fuzz. Completely switching gears for the follow-up track, “TEENA” comes back to the Weezer/60s pop wellspring that The Slats find themselves continually drawing from. “TEENA” is benefited by the dynamic that the silky vocals have with the highly-distorted guitar laid down on the track. In the same way that Darlington and The Lillingtons are catchy in their flawless combination of The Ramones and those earlier pop-rock bands (and Buddy Holly) that the Ramones were influenced by, The Slats push together the Ramones, earlier music, and some of the shoegazer pseudo-emo that was famous in the early nineties.

The CD is above-average, in that the only impediments to complete cohesion are those aforementioned instrumental tracks, but even an off-beat track like “Hello Operator” can gain converts to its screeching guitar lines and constant repetition. I must say, in the same of time between the and this album, The Slats have really matured their sound, and seem ready for the big town. Their music will never be dated, as it is all based on tried-and-true musical powerhouses instead of indie flavors of the week, and their style of music would fit as well during the Smoking Popes as during Weezer, The Hives, or Modest Mouse.

Top Track: The War I Survived, Teena

Rating: 6.9/10

The Slats – Pick It Up / 2004 Latest Flame Records / 15 Tracks / / / Reviewed 25 September 2004

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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