Over three records, Slothrust have created a sound that is undeniably powerful. From front woman Leah Wellbaum’s witty, relatable lyrics that dabble in the surreal to her killer guitar licks to the most solid rhythm section in music – drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann – Slothrust are an absolute force of nature. Since their 2016 record, Everyone Else, the band relocated to Los Angeles to record their fourth LP, The Pact. The band promised it be their most diverse album with plenty of surprises. For instance, they released a companion video game, The Slothrust Trail, which you can play here. Musically, though, Slothrust continue to defy classification, particularly when it comes to “this sounds kind of grungy” bands, and The Pact demonstrates what the trio can achieve.
Right from the opening track, “Double Down”, it’s obvious something is different. It dives into an electronic territory with some synth and a drum machine. It’s still distinctively Slothrust, but feels fresh. The next track, “Peach”,is a gigantic number, which starts out quiet but quickly becomes a monster quickly. Wellbaum’s piercing wail is spine-tingling, and it is one of her strongest vocal performances onthe album.
It’s impossible not to get hyped listening to “Planetarium”. From the intro guitar lick to the frenetic pace to the opening lines of “I wanna take you to the planetarium / I wanna show you how ugly the sky is”, Slothrust deliver a sonic explosion. There are also some killer solo sections, where each band member really shines. It’s amazing how perfectly they can follow up a track like that with the slow, heart-wrenching “Walk Away” or deliver a poppy and catchy (but lyrically powerful) tune like “Birthday Cake”.
“For Robin” is another big departure for Slothrust. There are horns, which shouldn’t be surprising for three former jazz students from Sarah Lawrence College, but it’s surprising for specifically these three. The result is a truely standout track, and possibly one of the band’s biggest moments yet. The trio then head to folk territory with “The Haunting”, which features a beautiful acoustic guitar solo.
“New Red Pants” feels like it has something brewing throughout. From its acoustic guitar parts to its loud, distorted ones, it always feels on the verge of eruption. The eruption finally comes on the next track, “Fever Doggs”, which builds into a massive sound and may feature Slothrust at their heaviest, thanks to some truly powerful drumming from Gorin, double-bass pedal included.
The record comes to a close with three powerful, relatively quieter tracks. “On My Mind” is moving – between its vocals, its under body of distorted guitar chords, and its amazing saxophone parts. Wellbaum’s vocals are astounding on the slower-paced “Some Kind of Cowgirl”, which also features some intricate drumming. The closing track, “Travel Bug”, wraps up The Pact quite nicely. It’s distinctively Slothrust while also being just Wellbaum on acoustic guitar with a little throwback vocal distortion.
Slothrust demonstrate why they are one of the best bands today with The Pact. When they announced the record, they promised something different, and they definitely delivered on it. It’s still recognizable, yet it’s strangely captivating. The grunge influence remains, but it’s not the trio’s defining feature anymore. With tracks like “The Haunting” or “Walk Away”, they’ve become so much more.
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