The Curse of the Singapore Sling

by: Singapore Sling

Reykjavik's Singapore Sling has a lot going for it on its debut full-length, The Curse of the Singapore Sling. Sling chief Henrik Bjornsson's songs are marvelously gritty, often glowering tales that recall the shadowy post-punk of Suicide, while at the same time suggesting latter-day outfits like Brian Jonestown Massacre. While Bjornsson deadpans on the mike, Bjarni Johannsson's drums flicker and pop in and out of the frame and the greasy, distorted riffs from no less than three guitars pool on a dirty tile floor. None of the ten songs "rock," per se; rather, they hover in a gauzy threshold, like the static between two FM radio stations. "Overdriver" and "Nuthin' Ain't Bad" are noise pop deconstructions of 1950s teen rebellion rock & roll, while "No Soul Man"'s languid, reverb-drenched guitars duet with sultry, slightly menacing female backing vocals. A shaft of light pierces the song's heavy curtains when its plaintive chorus drifts in. But the sun must have gone behind a cloud, because The Curse Of is back to its stoned and dreary self with the instrumental "Roadkill." In the album's second half, Bjornsson's guitar combines with those of Helgi Petursson and Einar Kristiansson for a black-and-white neo-psychedelic trip. The lyrics are few and the mood is heavy; it's easy to imagine standing next to the lone figure depicted on the album's cover, staring down the two-lane blacktop in search of danger, drugs, or both. The album closes with a spectacular, fuzzed-out ride through the Standells' classic "Dirty Water." "That's where you'll find me," Bjornsson drones. "Along with lovers, buggers, and thieves." Easily the best line in the song, this. Bjornsson knows it; he repeats the couplet four times, drawing out the payoff line. Finally, he mumbles it offhandedly. "Ah, but they're cool people." It's unclear whether Singapore Sling's elongated time frame is due to the bandmembers' craving for mind-altering substances, or a need to pass the time in a country where sheep outnumber people. Either way, it makes for great late-night road trip listening, as the darkness plays tricks with your sleep-addled eyes. ~ Johnny Loftus

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