Slowride – Building a Building

Building a Building

On Slowride’s debut album, As I Survive the Suicide Bomber, the Dallas-based trio lit up a litany of pop-punk, barreling out all the basic staples – simple yet catchy beats, catchy hooks, and intense yet harmonic vocals. It had been done before by countless bands, but something must have stood out to notable indie label Deep Elm to sign this trio, and indeed the band showed significant talent even while treading familiar ground.
Clearly, Slowride wasn’t satisfied with making a good pop-punk album, for on the sophomore release, the band proves that it’s more than a one-trick pony. Instead, this release combines punk attitude, garage-rock power riffs, hard-rock mentality, and a depth of songwriting that is missing in many bands of the ilk. While all the influences here have been done to death, they’re brought to life with a kind of attitude and verve that was lacking in the band’s debut.
A sort of anti-punk attitude to the acoustic opener sets the pace for Building a Building and leads right into the garage-rock intensity of “Smoke Cigarettes.” It sounds a little bewildering, after the unabashedly pop-punk of the band’s debut, but the trio pulls off both styles admirably, even if these varied styles lead to the conclusion that the band is still developing its sound. The hard-rock approach to “Panther 1” would make a fine addition to a Foo Fighters or Local H album, and “Panther 4” ups the speed and intensity even further.
The first real sing-along moment comes on “New and Entitled,” when vocalist D.H. Phillips drifts into the more harmonic style that was evident on the band’s debut as opposed to the newfound garage-rock edge. It all busts forth on “Panther 2,” a hard-hitting and intense track, but it all comes together on the title track, which I believe perfectly combines punk-rock intensity, guitar-driven rock, and catchy, hook-laden choruses that brings to mind the best mid-90s guitar-driven bands like the Meices. “Will and Testament” takes a similar approach, with even more reliance on hooks. This is the direction I’d love to see Slowride go.
So, yes, Building a Building is far more original and fresh than the band’s debut, and that’s a welcome thing. There’s a variety of styles here, and at the band’s best moments, the styles all blend perfectly into an intense dose of rock. Yet I still get the sense that there is more in store for this band, that the musicians are still developing their sound and great things are in their future.