Alternative rock band Slur’s latest album, “B,” actually came out about a month and a half ago, so I’m a little late with this review. The band has been around for a while and has become a fairly staple band among alternative rock fans, especially after the growth in popularity of Pae Arak, who used to be the guitarist before he quit to focus on his acting and solo careers. Though Slur has never been a particular favorite of mine personally, they have had some songs with really intriguing or humorous lyrics, and some songs with a catchy, unique sound that I have enjoyed, so I was looking forward to giving their latest release a listen. However, after the first time I heard it from start to finish, I had little to no motivation to listen to it again, and it took a lot of will-power for me to translate all the songs, listen a few more times, and write up this review, which I feel already says a lot for this album.
But, after a lot of feet-dragging, here I am, and my first impression is that this album is pretty black and white; I’m pretty equally torn between loving half the tracks and hating the other half, with no “eh, it’s all right” grey area in between.
This album has the standard 10 tracks, with four of them having been prereleased as singles. The first two singles, “หากใจ / Hahk Jai (If Your Heart) [Heart Joy]” and “เพราะทุกครั้ง / Pror Took Krung (Because Every Time) [Tears],” I both really enjoyed when they came out. They both have that unique Slur feel to them with the band’s signature grungy-retro sound, and both have interesting, positive lyrics, urging us to let go of the things that make us suffer and to try to be happy in our lives.
Half of the B-sides also have that same feel to them. The first track, “คำเหล่านั้นที่ทำให้ฉันสุขใจ / Kum Lao Nun Tee Tum Hai Chun Sook Jai (Those Words That Make Me Happy) [Sentences]” has a very distinct sound, full, positive lyrics about not giving up, and was a great opener for the album. “ไม่รับฝาก / Mai Rup Fahk (Not Accepting Responsibility) [Don’t Leave],” probably my favorite B-side on this release, has an awesome retro rock sound and really intriguing, emotional lyrics that convey the conflicting feelings of being uncertain of your relationship. And not to be confused with Clash’s song by the same name, “HEY! เธอ / Hey! Tur (Hey, You!)” sounds like it came right from Slur’s debut album. It has their same classic sound, it cannot be mistaken for any other band, and though the lyrics are short and repeat a little too much for my taste, they still express a lot of the need to let yourself go and follow your heart if you want to be happy.
However, the other half of the album, I found, had very little appeal.
While their latest single, “Popular Vote,” had interesting lyrics about complimenting the beauty of a girl, the music for it fell flat and didn’t really stick out, and the blurry music video gave me a headache and motion sickness, I couldn’t sit through the whole thing. Similarly, the other B-sides, “หรือ / Reu (Or),” “โลกสอง / Lohk Saung (Two Worlds) [Us],” and “ด้วยกัน / Duay Gun (Together) [With You]” just sounded mediocre. Nothing stood-out music-wise and they kind of ran together and were hard to distinguish apart. At times, there was also just too much going on with the attempt to achieve that sort of ambient, cerebral sound with all the synth and other instruments going on in conjunction with each other, it started to just sound like noise after a while.
Also, Slur have always been known for their unique lyrics, be it tongue-in-cheek or very cerebral, metaphorical that are open to several interpretations, but in the latter half of this album, it seems like they were almost trying too hard, especially in the case of their third single, “ดูหมา / Doo Mah (To See a Dog) [Barking Dog],” which had everyone in the Youtube comments sharing their ideas about what the song was about, arguing over different interpretations, or complaining that the song made no sense and that Slur had gone downhill lately. Another issue with the lyrics is the length in half of them; As proven by 25 Hours’ newest album, and by Slur themselves in “”HEY! เธอ / Hey! Tur (Hey, You!),” you don’t need long, complicated, involved lyrics to effectively convey and emotion or story, (and it sure makes my job translating them a whole heck of a lot simpler!), BUT there is no need to constantly repeat one verse and one chorus in order to make a song last 4 minutes. I think the repetition in some of these songs was the worst thing for me; a couple of them repeated everything 4, 5, 6 times. It just got very monotonous.
Nothing against the alternative rock genre; I know there are still die-hard fans who love them, and new fans who really enjoyed their sound and everything about this particular release. However, comparing it to the band’s accomplishments in the past, I’m afraid I have to agree with those Youtubers who were lamenting that this release is a step down for Slur. Or, perhaps, those who have commented that you need to smoke pot or some other mind-altering substance to fully appreciate it are right.
I’m not sure why they chose “B” for the album title; perhaps they knew it wasn’t their best and thus not “A-grade” work? Although I personally think I’d rename it “B-.” Due to the extreme polarity of me loving half the songs and hating the other half, excellent and terrible average out to mediocre, so I think I would rate this a 6/10.
But! Feel free to disagree! If you’re a Slur fan or a fan of alternative rock, or you particularly like songs with lyrics that aren’t so readily understood, you might really enjoy this album. Check it out and form your own opinion~
If you like it, please support the artists and purchase your music legally; No matter where you live in the world, you can order a hardcopy of the CD from eThaiCD.com, or it is available for digital download on iTunes as well~