Slug Guts – Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat (Music Review)

Playin' in Time With the Deadbeat cover

Slug Guts – Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat

Slug Guts performs sinister, testosterone-laden Australian post-punk in the vein of The Birthday Party. All their songs on Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat are deep and echoey, as if it were recorded from the far side of a cellar. Or maybe a better description of the sound is that of a man yelling across an alley, while an advancing gang of thugs tries to get you to leave by brandishing musical instruments at you.

The vocals sometimes recall early, self-destructive Iggy Pop as much as The Birthday Party, and the lyrics are decipherable with a little effort. However, it doesn’t take much time to realize that those details aren’t very important. Just take the impression given by the song’s name (such as “Stranglin’ You Too”, “Order of Death”, or “Glory Holes”) and let that guide your interpretation of the loud, bass-heavy wall of sound that washes over you.

That’s not to say that the production is haphazard or low-budget, though. I think that Slug Guts captured the songs exactly as they wanted here, with a very rich sound that has a slightly overwhelming impact on the listener. It’s enjoyable, if a bit of an acquired taste. With the vocals obscured, don’t expect to distinguish the songs by their lyrics. The tracks are legitimately different, with no skimping on the songwriting, but that feeling they give off just doesn’t vary. The first few times you listen to this, you’ll wonder why they didn’t just save some time by writing two songs and repeating them over and over.

Fortunately, those differences in the songs do matter eventually. This is a solid, consistent (if maybe too consistent) album. Slug Guts can be a hard band to listen to, both figuratively (that dark, oppressive atmosphere) and literally (they actually hurt my ears if I’m not careful), but the more I listen, the more interested I am. I’m not going to say that Deadbeat is a completely successful album, but it’s an impressive showcase for this band’s potential. I hope they decide on a better way to present the vocals in the future, but the talent and confidence is already there.

Grade: B-

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