Indie/alt trio, The Slang, arrive with an EP that can’t be faulted for its studious replication of modern pop rock radio. What it can be faulted for is a glaring lack of identity on a well-trodden path; an accomplished replication that’s radio-ready as can be.
Post-2000s indie was marked out by bands like the much-revered Death Cab for Cutie right through to The Killers. The guitar stylings which forego traditional roots steeped in the blues and other such lineage are instantly recognizable, with electronic-influenced rhythms, suspended chords and jangly overtones.
The Slang employ all of the above with gusto, but little about the chord progressions, ornamentation or lead lines lend any sense of originality. ‘Back to the Fact’, ‘Breakdown’, and ‘Is It Any’ all exemplify this problem, though their quality beyond this issue is without doubt – each musical voice is carefully tailored in the mix, and the songwriting has all the components of a quintessential indie hit.
‘Harm’ is a notable exception, however. The construction of the harmonies and buttery chorus vocals speak of a deeper talent at work. Not to be forgotten are the gorgeous, watery guitar leads that wash in with the backing acoustic guitars.
Lead vocalist, John Bobo’s clarity and charisma shine through both here and on the anthemic, ‘Is it Any’. The latter carries the belting and majestic pines of Brandon Flowers, buttressed by lyrics that detail a rocky romance.
‘Desperate Times’ is by no means a failure, but it’s far from a triumph for The Slang. This is meat and potatoes indie rock without any stragglers, making it a clean, but painfully predictable recording. Future releases would do well to explore what it is about their sound that makes them unique – the potential is clearly there, it just needs to be stirred.