by Allison Kridle
I walked into the Brooklyn venue Rough Trade one night last year with the intention of only seeing Ian Sweet, the opener for the garage punk threesome, Slothrust, and getting home before midnight. Luckily, this sensible plan didn’t play out, and I stayed for the headliner. The room filled up so fast and enthusiastically with their die-hard fans and my curiosity sparked. Slothrust’s first song in the set hit me like lightning. Lead singer and front woman, Leah Wellbaum’s grounded and bottomless voice in conjunction with their spastic riffs and throbbing rhythms did so much more for me then a full night’s sleep would.
This was well before they released their newest LP The Pact. The album is a serious kicker as it contains jostling melodies, lyrical webs, and delightful fuzz. The track “Birthday Cake,” starts sweetly with solo and minimalist riffs alongside Wellbaum’s dewy vocals. But it wouldn’t be Slothrust if they didn’t get consistently louder. Wellbaum and her bandmate’s sound heats up when she ferociously sings, “But hey I would sit on your birthday cake/I’ll take what I can take/And you can get what you get/Cause it’s your party treat me how you want/Your mother and your aunts don’t care for me anyway.” A comforting anthem for anyone who feels like their being controlled or sick of caring about people’s perspectives.
The majority of Slothrust’s songs start with offering you a small bite, and once you figure out you want to taste all the flavors, you wait around for a couple of seconds and fill up on the whole meal. If there was a song that could prove me wrong off The Pact it would be “Planetarium,” which is perhaps the grittiest track off the entire album that listeners don’t have to be patient for the fizzy noise. The cataclysmic drums stand out in this track as they go hand in hand with Wellbaum’s ghoulish, Karen O-esque vocals.
As many exceptional rock bands have shown, the genre is not all about how loud or severe the sound gets. Slothrust shows their raw and vulnerable side in their slower tunes such as “On my Mind” and “Walk Away.” Not to mention, these tracks feature a bluesy saxophone. Wellbaum closes “On My Mind,” next to the shrilling sax singing, “And I don’t know why you are coming up in my mind again/I thought that time would make things fade away/But today I’m thinking of way back when/Wish we could start again.” She gets even more personal in “Walk Away.” She lets you in by singing, “I’m tired of feeling like I’m living for somebody else/I’m unrehearsed/Sometimes it hurts to watch you love yourself.” Wellbaum opens up about a relationship that she won’t walk away from for her independence. Even though it’s considered a slower jam, every listener will crave the screeching and gloomy guitar solo that ties up the angst in a beautiful bow.