Review Projection: Abrasive Noise

Posted 11 Jan 2021 in News

We start off another year of reviews with the fifth album from LA-based alt-rockers Slow Burning Car. The band features six musicians, with both a female and male vocalist who share lead vocal duties. I’ve never heard of this band before and naturally when looking at the album cover, I had an expectation of how this album would sound. Also aided by the promo which said this band was “Alt Rock/Spacecore”. However both the album cover and the promo are somewhat misleading to what lays beneath the surface.

The alt-rock part is certainly right. The engine of this slowly burning vehicle is started up with an injection of indie rock tracks, which sees this automobile hit the road in a pretty fun way. Simple power chord riffs are at the wheel with the catchy vocals providing the support from the passenger seat. The opener “Public Cynic” has a call-to-arms feel to it, driven by the lyrics that centre around the injustices and poor standard of governance in the world at the moment. It’s a somewhat serious start to the album that is overturned swiftly by some more light-hearted tracks.

It’s around the fourth track where the Slow Burning Car threatens to veer off the road and into the ditch. “Funnybone” has a juvenile, comical feel to it that I am still a little unconvinced about. It’s got that early 2000’s pop-punk cheesiness to it. The choruses do teeter on the edge of becoming too repetitive and the track in general is a little bit cringey. But it will definitely get stuck in your head, one way or another.

The album continues on a highway of indie-rock for a while, before “Memoirs of A Gentleman Ghost” sees the album take a slight detour as it has a more of a storytelling vibe, with some spoken word sections that overlap the vocals. This doesn’t quite work as well as it should, but nevertheless it’s still an enjoyable track. Projection then proceeds to take a sharp right turn into more progressive territory that definitely caught me off guard, and I would say is my favourite part of the album.

I could honestly talk about every track from 7 to 9 here as they’re all great, and you know what I will. “Seems So Nice” has some beautiful acoustic guitar playing and has a proper “gather round the campfire and sing merrily” vibe to it. It’s super cool and has a lullaby-like rhythm to it, I feel all cosy and sleepy listening to it. Even the guitar solo sounds just lovely. There’s a youthful exuberance to this track that is incredibly infectious and reminds you of the good ol’ times. Before the Empire.

“Gardens in Space” follows in a similar vein. Although they include atmospheric sounds in this one such as this really elegant shimmer sound and the sounds of flowing water. The melodic guitar parts are drenched in reverb and the walking pace rhythm makes this track incredibly dreamy, embellished by pleasant synths, electronic effects and even some bongos. Somehow this track keeps me engaged throughout it’s 9 minutes, sometimes these kind of tracks bore me but Slow Burning Car seem to have great placement on this track to keep the listener invested in it. This vehicle is now cruising through some beautiful landscapes, despite being on fire. We can worry about that later.

Finally, “Meraki” is similarly dreamy and peaceful, with some more beautiful acoustic guitar playing and classy vocal harmonics. However as if we haven’t had enough deviations already, this track is also sung in Greek!

The final track feels a little bit unnecessary to me, “Transfer Terminal Twelve” is an electronic ambient track with some meaty guitar parts thrown in but just feels a little bit out of place in the context of the whole album. But I guess maybe not as the album itself seems made to subvert expectations and be a bit bizarre. I like the track, but I feel the album didn’t need it.

Overall I must say I quite enjoyed this album. The first half of the album is a lot of fun and is a borderline cringefest but I definitely found myself wanting to dance around when listening. Most indie rock is boring to me but they got something right here because this is definitely not boring. The progressive second half was very much a surprise, and did seem to work well so full credit to them for that. It’s not easy to make a shift like that sound natural. There’s a lot to enjoy on Projection, it’s like that one guy in a group of friends who is hard not to like because of his quirky nature. It’s a strange album in some ways, but it was well worth checking out.

Posted by Troy

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