The Slats – Pick it Up

The Slats
Pick it Up

Band name starting with “the”? Check. Two or three members in the group? Check. Lots of distortion and fuzz? Check. Nice melodies the kids can really hook into? Check. The Slats definitely have the current formula for indie hipster success covered, but the final question in the equation remains – does the band have what it takes to be a hit?

The answer to that is a little harder to come by than a simple yes or no response. These songs lean toward having the right combination of skronk and melody to make them appealing to most rock fans. In fact, the Slats are just on the cusp of almost everything so as not to repel any particular group of potential fans. The band certainly leans toward simple garage rock, and the sound is stripped down, but not so much so that those preferring a slicker studio sound will be turned off. The same goes for frontman Brian Cox’s vocals, which range from a clear singing voice to gruffer hollering depending on the song.

Perhaps the biggest plus for the Slats is smart songwriting. Not only do these guys let their pop sensibilities shine in the form of catchy rhythms and melodies, they tend to write intelligent lyrics which offer a lot more substance than most of their contemporaries. Pick it Up offers some great examples of simple but effective songwriting, and these are the tracks that really shine. “Another Physical Reaction” throws down some straightforward garage rock to get things moving and “The Diabetic Coma” picks takes the lead and dive bombs straight into the skronk along with the refrain “let’s rock to the insulin shock.”

The Slats seem most at home when allowing the pop to run free a bit more. “Automobile” is extremely catchy, and your inner-geek will get little thrills out lyric snippets like “masticating manible.” “Teena” is another fine example of the best of Pick it Up with its chugging tempo that reminds me greatly of the Cars. The same is true of “I Believe Timothy McVeigh” – the 80s and early-90s pop-rock line is shuffled along with great precision.

Although there are a few instances where the Slats seem to lose focus, Pick it Up is an overall solid album. As for whether these guys could make it big, in the end the answer is yes. If they stick to simple, catchy songs, I can see them going quite far. Even better is the fact that they will find their fans by being good at what they do instead of by looks or gimmicks thatdetract from the music.