Don't Dallas, Texas band The Slack makes music that has a dynamic pop/new-rock sound. The melodies change up dramatically during phases of a number of songs, and the band incorporates a wide range of instrumentation into many of the tracks on Wishful Sinking. There is a variety of styles on this release, and some of the songs have that quality where they almost sound familiar.
Chris Holt's voice is a pleasant tenor that falls somewhere between Art Garfunkel and Eric Woolfson (Alan Parson's Project). "You Deserve Better," a song from an admirer to a girl who chooses to be with a different guy, and "Leaving Chicago," about escaping from a rut by moving to a new city, are like Alan Parson tracks that have been updated for the new millennium with an edgier, more contemporary guitar style. Like Parson, these guys take full advantage of what the studio has to offer by layering their tracks with all kinds of cool sounds in the rhythm and the melody, making this album feel almost psychedelic in places.
"Breaking Down" reminds me of 80s alt bands Oingo Boingo and The Vapors. It begins with a manic electric guitar for a measure and then drums and this zany bell sound comes chiming in, creating a unique, discordant jam. The song has a fun tempo even though it is about wanting to end a friendship with someone that is verbally combative. "Whisper," a song of support to someone who has moved out on their own, is a gentle acoustic number with violins and a trumpet added to make the song practically reach out and hug the listener.
In most cases, the music and its arrangement demonstrate a certain compositional maturity, but I found the lyrics to be aimed more toward eighteen to twenty-four year olds. They are full of teen-angst and betrayal in relationships. Verses like "Rain fall down on me / Rain fall down on me / I'm so blind I cannot see" from the song "Leaving Chicago" sound cool but, together, they don't really seem to mean anything, and from the same song the words "A sound of fear rings in my ear / I just can't breathe a sigh of relief / No more grief," vaguely hint at an anxiety disorder, but I'm not sure that was the intent of the writer.
All things being equal, I will probably put Wishful Sinking in rotation on the CD changer; I enjoy the music and the singing and I'm interested in seeing how The Slack play these songs live. Rumor has it they are good performers, and they appear to be building quite a following.