Singapore Sling may be Iceland’s most valuable export since Bjork. Actually, its probably Iceland’s only valuable export since Bjork (and, perhaps, Sigur Ros), unless snow and fish send you into paroxysms of joy—but that shouldn’t deter you from giving their sophomore record a spin.
Over twelve tracks, the Sling’s gritty, dark garage sound slogs off this record. The songs are slow and heavy, like images in a bad dream where everything is covered in molasses. It bears more than a passing resemblance to My Bloody Valentine (the cover art is suspiciously similar to Loveless‘), but at the same time sounds more like that band’s black-sheep cousin. If MBV recorded the breathy mutterings of angels, than the wings of Sling’s inspirations are doused in mud, and probably hiding from the sun in the shadowy corners of dive bars.
Loops of whining strings and the bumblebee-drone of bass guitars echo throughout this record, creating a hallucinatory atmosphere to lose yourself in. The album opens with “Sunday Club” and “Curse Curse Curse,” two slow-tempo rockers that leave you unguarded for the faster-paced “Rockit” — which as far as I can tell, is an ode to self-destructive driving and living. “Don’t crash / don’t die / don’t care / don’t care” chants front man Henrik Bjorsson, in a somber but sober tone that suggests living in a land of ice and snow can be a seriously understated downer. MBV’s influence bleeds through on “Nightlife,” a beautiful track that seems to epitomize Sling’s love for its apparent Irish heroes, but lulls you to sleep before hitting you hard with the titular track. On that, Bjorsson sings “I want to die young / but I’m getting old / my life is killing my rock `n’ roll” in a mantra that’s an eerily accurate description of the facial expressions rush hour drivers can’t seem to help wearing.
The awesome but depressing downward spiral ends at track nine, “Sugar,” which lends the album a much-needed dose of optimism. Wailing feedback drifts through the background while the bass races toward the second refrain, where guitars and a piano crash together and explode. Following that comes “Guiding Light,” arguably the best song on the album, which combines synthesizers with heavy rock that will make Jesus and Mary Chain fans swoon.
Fish and snow might not be particularly exciting, but it’s apparently an excellent environment for creative musical talent. And if investing in Icelandic exports leads to extended tour dates and more bands like Singapore Sling, than we have a global duty to buy Life is Killing My Rock `N’ Roll.
Please, people—buy Icelandic.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Jesus and Mary Chain – Munki
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – BRMC