Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
The fourth release from Slow Burning Car, Defection, finds this Los Angeles five piece refining their hard-hitting, varied musical attack in a way that makes clear they are plotting an artistic trajectory intended to carry them for years to come. The band has existed in different incarnations and configurations during its lifespan and the base quartet has a renewed focus for this release that gives it urgency fourth albums from anyone seldom possess. There’s no wasted motion over the course of these ten songs and a fierce intelligence burns within their potent mix of rock, metal, and emo influences. They definitely possess a recognizable sound nodding to tradition, but there’s just as much individuality in what they do that helps these songs come across as fresh and surprisingly original – particularly using two singers, one male and the second female, with powerful results. Slow Burning Car is experiencing mounting success in a competitive indie music scene and Defection poises them for rising into another, much higher level, of visibility.
There’s an inexorable quality their twin guitar attack brings to the opener “Alpha Duplicor” without ever overwhelming listeners. Tony Spiropoulos’ vocals veer effectively from a near conversational style during the verses into full on, highly musical wailing with each chorus and remains convincing throughout. One of the more accelerated numbers on Defection comes with the breakneck power chord riffing of “Soul Crimes” and Spiropoulos unleashes a mighty vocal attack here that commands immediate attention. It’s one of the band’s finer lyrical numbers, as well, and cut to fit the arrangement with lock step precision. Jesse Damon and Tommy Marcel are a hard-hitting guitar tandem, but Spiropoulos; bass playing and Adam Idell’s athletic drumming gives the guitarists a solid foundation to play over. The punky flavor delivered with “Soul Crimes” asserts itself again with the track “Devil in the Room” and Spiropoulos adopts a similar vocal approach to the album’s first song while spinning it in a slightly different direction. The performances on Defection are uniformly pared down to their essential elements and shorn of even a hint of musical fat. Co-vocalist Krista Ray makes her presence felt rather strongly on the track “You Can’t Stay Here” and, despite its high octane tempo, it’s a song providing a nicely nuanced take on a familiar situation.
A very different side of the band emerges with the track “Bedtime” and its acoustic strains are colored with glistening touches of keyboard that never stretch the boundaries of tastefulness. Spiropoulos’ hushed vocal gives the song a moody current that contrasts nicely with the arrangement. This theme continues with the song “Chrysanthemum” and it manifests the same lightly progressive rock sound we heard on “Bedtime”. The vocal is a little wider open here, but there’s much of the same sort of theatricality coming through. The song runs nearly five minutes but never feels like it. Strong guitar returns with the album finale “Clouds” and it alternates between diffuse cathedrals of sound and powerful riffing with a straight ahead, head down quality. Defection is quite a varied release that manages to convincingly touch on a number of genres without ever losing credibility. Slow Burning Car has made an impressive mark with this release and it shows a band with no signs of peaking as an outfit.