Since their formation in 1991, The Slackers have been a quintessential band in the ever-growing genre-bending trend of mixing Jamaican styles with American flair. The band out of Brooklyn has toured around the world, boasting at least 100 shows per year since 1997 – the year they released their second full-length album Red Light off the Epitaph label. As the years flew by, The Slackers are now on their 11th LP which is comically a self-titled album, a signature staple of a debut album. There is no stop to The Slackers’ subtle humor.
Released by RareBreed Recording Company, the new self-titled album is – by far – the most meandering, twisted, interesting and enjoyable time warp to date. Blending traditional Jamaican dancehall with doo wop with American 1950s rock with late 1970s Euro punk, it’s conspicuous why lead singer Vic Ruggiero has dubbed the Slacker style ‘Jamaican Rock-n-roll’. Traces of the blues, ska and soul are also present, found between the album’s ebb-and-flow reverb and its alternating sound effects that really rev up the ride. And, boy, what a ride…
The Slackers position themselves as omnipotent observers of human behavior
The novel LP is less a string of songs placed along side each other and more an unintentional concept album. From track one, “The Boss”, The Slackers position themselves as omnipotent observers of human behavior and dictate – over a humorously contrasting upbeat and lackadaisical tone – that it pays the cost to be the boss, meaning that you have to face the consequences of your actions within any given society: “hang from your cross… for the boss”. How martyr-like, indeed. Tracks two and three are titled “By the Time I Get to Sleep” and “Go, Go, Go!”, respectively, which is pretty self-explanatory pertaining to their content – society has us firing on all cylinders these days. Subject matter aside, the songs feature muted horn riffs, intermittent maracas, dirty tenor sax solos, playful bubble organ chords and carnival-like harpsichord keys, with swift changes in timbre, tonality, and tempo. If that didn’t melt your mind, try listening to it all. Just when you get settled into a track, The Slackers pull it back, sideways, around and plunge into something entirely different. The album progresses to track four, “Working Overtime”, which is ironically upbeat and centered around the unrequited affection of a man towards a overly-demanding woman. Which causes friction, evident in track five “Spin I’m In”. Followed by a 360-degree flip of viewpoint in “I Want to Be Your Woman”, song number six: with lyrics like “I want to be your girl… sometimes”, The Slackers strike a firm stance on women and how they plain just don’t know what the hell they want.
The self-titled album hit digital outlets officially last month in February, after another successful crowd-funding campaign to get the LP recorded. Although The Slackers have worked with labels in the past, their fans have made the last couple of projects possible. With last month’s release, the band is currently promoting the album on a cross-American tour. This means, if you are a Slackers’ fan, this funky new LP is about to come to life in a city near you!
Preview and download The Slackers on
- The Boss
- By the Time I Get to Sleep
- Go Go Go!
- Working Overtime
- Spin I’m In
- I Want to Be Your Girl
- Pockets of a Rich Man
- Run Till We Can’t Outrun
- Things I Can’t Forget
- Truth Comes Knocking
- Chewing On a Face
- Spaceman 3104
Release Date: February 18, 2016 • Copyright 2016 The Slackers • Label: Special Potato
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.