Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

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Album Review: Slingshot Dakota – Break

3 min read

For the sake of full disclosure I must declare that I adore female vocals, from the mellifluous tones of Neko Case and Florence Welch, through to the grittier “what you see is what you get” deliveries of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey.  I mention this as I had a “you had me at hello” moment listening to Slingshot Dakota: Carly Comando’s vocals are sweet and charming, and perfectly set against the musical attack the band delivers.  It is difficult to decide whether to describe the group’s sound as pop-punk, or punk-pop, as they lean into both the pop and the punk elements of their music while confounding the expectations either genre conjures for the listener.

Slingshot Dakota - BreakListening to the wall of sound that Slingshot Dakota are capable of producing you would be excused for thinking that the group is made up of at least three or four members, but the married couple of Carly Comando and Tom Paterson are the only band members.  Comando deploys her heavily effected keyboard deftly, playing melodies that would please the most ardent pop fans while also producing fuzzed out rhythms that many guitar based bands will be in awe of.  Paterson’s drumming fills out the tonal mid-range on the record, and he shows great judgement in knowing when to be restrained and when to let loose.

Break, the band’s fourth album, clearly has its antecedents in the couple’s decision to get married while on tour and the decision, made a year later, to dedicate themselves full-time to their music.  Lyrically Break is autobiographical, without being confessional, and narratively interesting enough to indicate that the truth hasn’t gotten in the way of telling a good story.  Album opener, You, lays out the template for rest of the record with its cascading melody, fuzzy bottom end, and sweet vocals from Comando, and solid rock drumming from Patterson.  Lewlyweds dirties up the melody and cleans up the rhythm as it documents the less than ideal living situation, involving bed bugs and a problem neighbour, the pair found themselves in as newlyweds.

Doreen feels like a conventional love song buried underneath a pounding rock song, with the narrative of finding ones’ passion in life and then committing to pursuing it wholeheartedly working well as a metaphor for love and the nurturing of a relationship, all the while showing that autobiographical lyrics don’t have to be warts and all confessions.  Paycheck fills out the middle of the album and forms a thematic couplet with Doreen.

Foregoing the keyboard, and relying solely on vocals and a distorted acoustic guitar, the darker tone – both sonically and lyrically – of Too Much juxtaposes well with the rest of Break, and the repeated refrain of “is it too much for you/to be around for me here” is positively melancholic, though Comando imparts just enough sweetness in her delivery to prevent it from becoming overbearing.  The eponymous Break, with its Disney-sweet melody and saccharine lyrics – “In the end it’s two of us/it was always two of us”, “it’s the kind of love that will make you break/but if it’s worth enough it’s the chance you take” – closes the album, and over the course of its six and half minute arc demonstrates an aural melding of form and function as the music threatens to break, with drums and distortion building, before the melody satisfyingly reasserts itself to gently end the album.