Album Review – This Is Glue by Salad Boys (2018) (Trouble in Mind Records)
It has been a while…in fact a bloody long time…exactly two years and four months to be precise…since the Salad Boys released their last album, Metalmania in September 2015. Normally my existence would be unfettered by such a delay, but with these jangling kiwis it has bugged me somewhat. In fact more than it probably should.
Sure, they have released a couple of live albums, an EP and two singles (onthis album) in the interim period, but this is a band who benefit from having distinguishable stylistics to their work and live / shorter versions do not really do them justice.
This is Glue most certainly addresses this issue. This time there are three perfectly conflicting styles to enjoy. Initially there is the heavy post-punk bias of tracks such as the opening Blown Up which sounds remarkably like their Kiwi countrymen from the 1980’s years of yore, The Pin Group. This post-punk thematic also applies to one of the album’s most expansive tracks in Scenic Route To Nowhere.
The seconds obvious stylistic shift is of the ‘totally laconic’. Beautiful tracks such as Right Time and In Heaven (see below) start off with the sort of melodic introductions that frequent most tracks by 80’s countrymen The Rip and usually end with gentle Teenage Fanclub melodic nibblings. In between these polar opposites the tracks become so languid that they circumvent any other clever Dunedin Sound / Flying Nun / Kiwi reference point that I am so desperately dredging my musical memory for, to settle nicely on a the sort of drowsily beautiful elegance of Car Button Cloth style The Lemonheads.
To some this sense of all things laconic will be the epitome of the better parts of the album. However in much the same way as a salad sandwich needs some sort of meat involvement for it to have a relevant focal point (think a BLT sandwich sans bacon?!) I also need something more substantial to get my teeth into.
This is provided in absolute spades with the third type of musical stylistic the band explores in all things Dinosaur Junior / Straitjacket Fits or even the subject of a previous review, fellow Kiwis, Bike. Here the singles ‘add the meat’ and disgust vegetarians by nailing the merest essences of jangling melodies to whirring guitars and imploring vocals. Similarly further flesh is added to the album in the the true stand out of the album, Exaltation (see below) which takes an almost Byrds like West Coast feel and add it to a The Charlatans style vocal echo and just lets the sheer energy of the track drive home the sound. These two tracks are truly superb.
Usually at this point I would try and add a brief paragraph adding just a slight criticism about an album I generally love…I cannot here and to be brutally honest I have run out of clever kiwi reference points that display my ‘superb musical knowledge’ and equally ‘clever’ salad and meat puns.
As such I merely conclude by stating it is a magnificent album and sees Joe Sampson producing yet more wonders from the confines of a bedroom studio that I imagine to be plated in gold.