Slingshot Dakota, an electronic duo from Pennsylvania, return with their fourth album, Break.
Things get off to a promising start with the first track ‘You’ – a high energy affair showcasing their unique brand of twee-electronica, resembling Dolly Mixture if they swapped the guitar and bass for synths and fuzz pedals. This sets the tone for the rest of the album as, unfortunately, diversity isn’t the album’s strong suit, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking half the tracks for one another, with the raspy buzz of the keyboard, featuring in almost every song, soon becoming repetitive.
Not to sell the album short, it does have several redeeming qualities; the vocals in particular are mostly very pleasant, similar to Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura. Although the juxtaposition of the soft voice with the aggressive distortion does not do the vocals as much justice in the quieter parts of the album, especially with the more traditional sounding instrumentation, such as that seen in tracks like ‘Stay’.
The entire album is tied together with the vigorous drumming of Tom Patterson, who gives the record some cohesiveness. Yet, in the album’s slower moments, such as the closing title track ‘Break’, his drumming becomes lethargic, doing more to make the songs tedious than to bring them new life.
The highlight of the album is the single ‘Paycheck’, where the duo do seem to strike a balance between the cacophony of drums and fuzz by accenting the aggression with more clean sounds, creating a catchier and more distinct sound from a lot of the homogeneity the rest of the album suffers from. Additionally, the track ‘Monocacy’ is perhaps the best embodiment of the twee-meets-electronic sound the duo are going for, although the vocals become somewhat grating, sharply decreasing the number of times you can tolerate re-listening – unfortunate for what is essentially a pop record.
The album is, overall, a frustrating listen as it settles rather annoyingly for safe ground, lacking the pure energy and ambition to make it an exciting listen, yet also lacking the polish and quality songwriting to make it a great pop album. At least a couple of the songs are interesting, but the ideas aren’t developed enough for it to create any real excitement, and whilst it is easy to see the redeeming qualities, they are far too fleeting and inconsistent to give the album any real character or quality. Due to the fact that this is the band’s fourth album, it makes it very difficult to call any of this ‘promising’.