Must listen: Virga, A Mode of Joy, Cold War
Skip: Number One, Tease Me
Born in Seattle but making a name for himself in the New York club scene in the 80’s, Sluka brings us his latest offering, Colorful Radiation. Before we get started, I want to share a few things about Christopher Sluka:
He’s big in Japan.
He’s also a well-respected visual artist.
He’s an airline pilot.
Okay, now that we’ve established that we’re dealing with a real renaissance man, I think we can get on to the review.
The album leads off with the first single, a song appropriately titled, Number One. The track begins with a hokey ukulele riff which immediately turns me off. It’s like “can’t this era of ukulele-folk be done already???” The song eventually evolves into a dreamy little number but the hook never quite grabbed me. An interesting choice for the first single. From there we get to Virga which would have been a much better choice for a first single in my opinion. A cool 80’s vibe with a much stronger hook than Number One. Moving on to Rise we see Sluka move into Talking Heads territory with Byrnes-esque vocals and a hypnotic rhythm. It almost has a gospel feel with the repetitive chants of “rise” towards the end of the cut. Tease Me really shows the Bowie influence. Vocally it almost sounds like an impression at times. Musically it has a new age feel. It’s like John Tesh recruited Bowie to sing a track. Not a bad tune, but not my favorite. On A Mode of Joy, we see a slower piano ballad that’s almost reminiscent of Boatman’s Call-era Nick Cave. It’s moody and beautiful. One of the highlights of the record thus far. Slinging Sights and Arpeggiate are both Lennon-esqe in nature and very solid. There hasn't really been a bad tune on the album. Cold War comes in at track 8 and is a powerful and haunting ballad about where we’ve been and where we’re headed. The highlight of the last half of the album. Visceral Repercussions is a nearly instrumental track with a hypnotic vocal underlay that works as a very effective lead-in for the last song on the album, Metaphor. The arrangement is gorgeous. It sounds a little like Lennon’s Imagine and that’s always a good thing in my book.
I loved this album. It might sway a little new age-y for some, and if you’re looking for uptempo rock and roll you’ll probably want to pass. However, if you’re into Bowie, Lennon, and the Talking Heads this will be right up your alley.