Words by Alexis Murphy
Total Slacker has been through a lot as a band. The advent of their formation in 2010 quickly launched them into hundreds of shows, two studio albums, and international acclaim. Since then, the band has evolved out of challenges with loss (former drummer Terence Connor was fatally struck in a hit-and-run accident in 2012), ambivalence in world where one’s purpose is elusive and at times amorphous, and embracing the present. These experiences shine through in their third studio album titled Parallels out on ONErpm/Verge Records.
The album opens with “Turn On the Lights”, a fuzzed-out, energetic track that calls for an awakening from disillusion and a search for meaning. Other stand-out tracks include the whirling and heavily distorted “Olympus Hill” about ridding oneself of fear. “Telephone Your Soul” is the emotional peak of the album, where Total Slacker fully commits to an epic seven-minute shoegaze banger that slowly builds in intensity and features a series of sharp and gravelly guitar riffs. Meanwhile, frontman Tucker Rountree sings of honest transparency while brooding, “you wear the past you used to know/ to keep you warm from future snow/ and when it’s time to take it off/ you’re naked like the rest of us”.
Rountree has frequently been compared to Thurston Moore and not without reason. He harkens to Moore’s style both tonally and lyrically, with songwriting full of imperatives and earnest yet snarly lyrics. Though it would be too easy (and reductive) to pigeonhole Total Slacker as a 90’s shoegaze renaissance band who is looking to be the next reincarnation of Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine. While they certainly possess those unmistakable shoegaze qualities, or in their own words, “slimegaze”, that’s not where it ends. Their Brooklyn DIY scene roots are deeply steeped in garage, surf, and psychedelic rock, and they manage to showcase their multiple influences in Parallels while remaining satisfyingly difficult to define. This is an album about growth- in terms of relationships and self-knowledge as much as it is about sonic progression and concept. Parallels demands multiple listens, much contemplation, and plenty of headbanging.
ONErpm / Verge Records
© August 19th, 2016
TheWaster.com | Brooklyn