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Sluka – Introversions – Album Review

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[bandcamp width=600 height=720 album=175989002 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 tracklist=false]

Retro-rock albums often mix old sounds with modern writing creating a cool mix of old and new, but rarely do these albums actually sound like the tracks that inspired them. On Sluka’s new record Introversions he crafts an album that feels pulled right out of the eras that inspired it, for better or for worse.

Synth lines bounce over the opening of “Valentine Lies” and while the vocals may feel over-the-top at the start they quickly gain power ballad addictiveness as Sluka hits the high notes before each chorus. The mix of straightforward ballad writing, and sonically interesting instrument and soundclip bridges make it a full throwback experience. The vocal line carries “A San Diego Zoo” as the instrumentation really doesn’t do anything to grab attention and ends up feeling like a secondary backing track.

Sunday’s Child” mixes dark and bright in its almost invisible jumps from chorus to verse for a song that really captures the cross from the 70s to 80s pop almost eerily. The solo rips passionately and feels like a seamless addition the countless solos that inspired its sound. Unfortunately on track’s like “Paralyzed” the 80s inspiration recalls memories of why the music world moved from certain song styles, as the track creates a blasé feeling that even similar tracks like “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart can’t avoid these days.

Doctor Strangelove” digs into that synth and bass focused sound bands like Genesis and their spinoffs did so well, and their fans will dive right into this track but others may find it a bit repetitive for its length on further listens.

On both “Even The Knights Love Caesar” and “Beautiful” the lack of edge and way guitars and percussion are mixed just make the tracks a little hollow.

Higher” is a mixed bag because its killer bass line and great drum work may be missed on account of a guitar tone that almost sounds like midi on today’s recordings. There’s a genuinely great feeling to the dark collage of voices and guitar on select moments of “Severed’s” choruses and the mix of vocals sound interesting in a David Bowie sort of way. Outside of these moments though the vocals sound painfully dissonant in a way that Bowie could rarely even pull off himself.

There’s a perfect sad orchestral ballad sense to the instrumentation on “Fear Of Ordinary Life” and when the vocals come in it all ties together in a heavily Beatles feeling. Short and to the point the track nails it and moves on without trying to reinvent the wheel. “Sadder Than Sad” avoids the cheesy emotion its title might evoke, for a relaxing and pleasant synth and sequencer driven slow jam.

Somewhere between the constantly falsetto vocals and the tone of the guitar on “Hung” its decent song writing is betrayed. The overall timbre of the song just doesn’t grab attention and really leaves some great writing buried. There’s a fun dark orchestral rock sound to “Gothic Cavaliers” that saves some of the issues its otherwise inaccessibly dense production present. Creating a track that has to be a little complex to be mysterious but in early moments overdoes the flourish hiding the more powerfully bombastic moments that make it great.

Introversions is a throwback album that feels so ingrained in its inspiration that at times it feels like lost hits from the past and at times it reminds us why certain sounds have bitten the dust. When Sluka gets a sound right, it works amazingly and the faults usually come more from a lack of edge than bad song writing.


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