Brandon Schneider | February 2017
“I won’t say I’m sorry!” cries the singer of The Slaps on their latest project “Susan’s Room.”
Local DePaul indie group, The Slaps, are here with their dreamy, surf rock-filled debut record.
The trio is one of DePaul’s more popular groups, and they are finally here with this full length LP that showcases what they have to offer as a band. Recorded in the lead singers sisters bedroom, the record features six full-length hazy flange guitar and reverby drum-filled tracks that not only take you back to the roots of surf music, but also heavily draw from several new influences. The likes of The Beach Boys as well as Mac Demarco are prevalent here, and that’s not to say that’s a bad thing. Nevertheless, sometimes the influence comes off too heavy and the songs start to end up sounding like tributes rather than new songs that are simply influenced by older tracks.
The record kicks off with the bizarre intro track, “Wearethemakersofmusic,” which features several voices from various old recordings that eventually lead into the first track, “Song for a Friend.” Despite being a fan of bizarre decisions in music, this intro comes off as extremely jarring to the rest of the record. Yes, it makes you instantly curious, but the rest of the tracks are tame compared to this intro, making it seem more outlandish than it tends to be, as well as very awkwardly placed in the track lineup.
The next cut is first real track that The Slaps begin the record with, and it is easily the most approachable track here. The guitars are playing fun major chords, the drums march along to the beat, and the vocal melody is easy to follow. A very safe, but acceptably fun indie pop song.
Odd structural choices from here on out start to hold this record back, such as the lack of a very obviously-needed swing drum beat on tracks like “See Her.” Aside from a few instances like this, the guitar and vocal performances are very emotional and punchy, and end up being the best part of this record. The music isn’t extremely original, but the vocals more than make up for this, especially on the oddly titled track, “Will Have Been Being Around.” The ascending and descending chord structures are some of my personal favorites in music, and the pairing of this progression with the remorseful delivery of the vocals on the track express a pain we can all relate to as listeners. Not only are the performances on this track top-notch, it was instantly memorable for me, and therefore my favorite track.
Songs such as “Song for a Friend” and “The Whistle Song,” are some of the better tracks on here, although the trio seems to have yet to make up their mind on the sound that they prefer. These tracks give me a more indie pop feel, while others seem to contain more blues inspired chord progressions and thematic lyrics. The sound remains consistent, but a coherent style is what the band is still looking for.
This record showcases the talents of the trio, but lacks the elements that make them extremely unique. The performances and songwriting are decent across the board, but tightening up every aspect of the band is definitely what The Slaps need. This record definitely has potential, but it just needs to be refined into a more coherent project. However, I am impressed with what I am hearing so far, and I’m looking forward to what the band has to offer in the near future.
Favorite tracks: Will Have Been Being Around, Song For A Friend