The Slingers’ thrill-a-minute debut is impossible to pigeonhole

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The Slingers’ thrill-a-minute debut is impossible to pigeonhole

The Slingers Sentimentalism review
Words by Bryget Chrisfield

Sentimentalism, The Slingers’ debut record, was written during summer in a farmhouse outside Colac where the band was greeted by a huntsman spider “the size of a fucking croissant”.

They soldiered on regardless, wisely sleeping in shifts.

An evocative collection of songs about characters living on the fringes of society, Sentimentalism reminds us that even broken humans deserve love. “Drunk and high on Independence Day/ Look like Nixon, feel like JFK/ In my hotel room with the TV on/ And for a second I forget you’re gone…” – not a single word is wasted throughout this album’s entirety, but Raising The Dead’s imagery lingers the longest in my mind.

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Robert J. Mahon’s vocals, yearning and nasally, have a familiar quality – a trace Lloyd Cole, perhaps? – which gives The Slingers instant-classic, nostalgic appeal.

Instrumentally – with its gradually building arrangement, ascending guitar parts, frequent cymbal crashes and wailing guitar solo – opener Living In The Age Of Loneliness reminds us that incredible songs can actually reduce feelings of isolation. No Harm Done (feat. Juice Webster), which follows, features fluttering keys played entirely on an authentic ‘60s Wurlitzer and immediately brings The Whitlams to mind. Webster’s guest vocals elevate the latter half of this song – haunting, like the ghost of a girlfriend past (“This love is out of time”) – and güiro is also used to great effect throughout. “When you left, you left a hole in me/ Down to the bone” – The Slingers’ latest single, Down To The Bone, navigates heartache.

As their piano ballad Someday Sister (“Don’t go breaking down on me just yet”) commences, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d somehow accidentally hit shuffle and landed on John Hiatt’s Have A Little Faith In Me. Then as if to further demonstrate The Slingers’ chameleonic tendencies, standout track It’s Something bursts with clanging, industrial percussion – shades of Visage’s Fade To Grey. Streets Of Tokyo is resplendent with shiny synth-pop sensibilities, East Asia-inspired melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyricism (“I never seen you look so calm/ As with a needle in your arm”).

The action throughout closer Needle And The Nine To Five (we detect a theme here), which clocks in at almost seven minutes, unfolds like a suspenseful short story: “I only came out tonight/ ‘Cause I thought I saw your light/ In your window on the second floor and for a second I suppose I forgot you’re not here anymore…”

The Slingers really are impossible to pigeonhole, which makes their debut full-length a thrill a minute. This band already easily sells out shows in their hometown of Melbourne. We can’t wait to see what their future holds in the wake of Sentimentalism.

Label: Flightless Records. Release date: July 7