Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
the fun before the funeral
on February 23, 2005
I don't know, this album always seemed like a group of extremely talented musicians fresh from Hardcore University trying to work out what to do, left in a studio for a week with Steve Albini eating a sandwich next to the microphones. The first song manages the clever trick of sounding like absolutely nothing else you've ever heard, and at the time I first heard it I was caught between laughing and turning it off. The song starts with one of the band complaining about his headphones not working before being swept away by the music, and culminates not long after with what sounds like someone smacking hell out of a radiator with an industrial spring, joyously shouting 'Oh man!'.
I guess that for a one word review you can interchange 'playful' and 'perplexing', as the band sweeps between styles without worrying too much about choruses, structure, or sense. About half of it is very heavily flanged jazz guitar, which I found (by half way through side two) did my head in, just complexity for the sake of it. They then jump straight into two minutes of death metal, only, y'know, good. Weirdly, even then Slint managed to worm something into your head, even if you're not paying attention. I haven't listened to this album in years (although I'm already thinking I should) and yet I can still remember the garbled words '...that's where the river bends, that's where the silo stands, that's where they paint their houses...'. Slint in a nutshell...you always have the profound feeling, even in their most throwaway moments, that something really bad is about to happen.
Despite that, what I was left with from this album was an infectious sense of fun (albeit with something really bad about to happen). Even if I didn't get with all of the music. Like some bands that came after them, the worst offender being Shellac, occasionally the joke's so studied you wonder if it's on you.
The closer 'Rhoda' is the most interesting song, I have absolutely no idea how they make the sounds they do. A longer version was later included on the split single which, if you're reading this review, I imagine you already know about. Fantastically original, striking music, bordering on the symphonic.
If you buy one Slint album, buy Spiderland, but this album is worth your money if you have an open mind and are prepared to smile along. Maybe the best thing is not to give it your full attention. And then five years later you'll be thinking to yourself, 'my god, I still know the lyrics'. And start looking over your shoulder.