THE NEW SLAVE - Bringing You A Brighter Tomorrow
At first the name The New Slave didn’t mean anything to me, but then I found out that I reviewed already a solo album of Craig M Clarke, one of the three members in this Californian band. Re-reading that review, I was reminded that The New Slave also remixed Crystal Shipsss’ album Yay, and for once managed to make the new result sound even more exciting than the already very yummy original take.
The New Slave have been around since 2007, and according to their Bandcamp page, they have released already a couple of albums and EPs since then, making Bringing You A Brighter Tomorrow their meanwhile third longplayer. Just as with Craig M Clarke’s solo record, this is not an easy affair, and it will take you more than just one cursory inspection to unravel all the magic hidden within these songs. The album has been marvellously produced by Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), who is also one of a couple of guest musicians featured on this exceptional record.
But let’s take a deeper look: Bringing You A Brighter Tomorrow starts with the album’s single Golden Summer Smile, for which the band also made a video clip. This song is as good an example of their sound as any other one, displaying the trio’s weird marriage of West Coast psychedelia and leftfield electronica. The tropically flavoured chorus adds a warmth which is unexpected of most electronic music, but then these guys are definitely out to do their very own thing. The following There Is A Way comes with a vintage drum patters and some crazy synthesizer arpeggio parts that despite their oddness manage to end up in a very upbeat song, especially later on when this five minute tracks builds its momentum into a rather festive mood.
The album’s centrepiece is the nearly nine minute long Love Is The Answer, Benjamin, whose first half is a mellow psychedelic ballad carried by acoustic guitar, floating vocals and ethereal keyboard sounds, before its second half picks things up with a trippy break beat before a gritty organ and a distorted electric guitar add an invigorating punch, and when the vocals tell the world, and especially Benjamin, that love is the answer, we are left with the impression that this is one of the tracks we will tell our grandchildren about. Things continue a little more subdued with Hump, a seemingly chilly piece of music whose warm synthesizer carpet makes for a smart contrast that will embrace the listener in a sense of well being. The Barry White-like vocals that occasionally pop up are just the cherry on top of the cake. The final four tracks, while not achieving the genius of the album’s first and longer half, still offer the band’s trademark electro-psychedelic sound, and with Building Spring, the band shows that they really want to bring warmth and happiness into the hearts of their audience. This Monster Must Be Destroyed is more of a soundscape with Frankenstein movie samples, segueing seamlessly into Beating The Bully, another more melancholy track with a really cool drum track, before the album ends way to soon with 99 Steps (Reprise), which once again opts for a more atmospheric mood.
Bringing You A Brighter Tomorrow is not an album that you will love at first listen, but the first time around will give you already quite an idea that there is more to it than you might have expected. Not unlike Caribou and Animal Collective, The New Slave are doing their very own thing with Sixties psychedelia, and by adding contemporary textures are able to give a vintage genre an entirely new face. There are no weak moments on the band’s third longplayer, and had it been a little longer and the second half maintained the first one’s impossible standards, a higher rating would have been on the agenda. Be sure to keep your eyes on these three crazy artists!