With 2018’s The Pact, Slothrust delivered one of that year’s unsung highlights. That album found the Los Angeles band coming into their own as excellent songwriters, and with its follow-up, the maturation continues to broaden their scope, though the mood has changed a great deal. On new album Parallel Timeline, this evolution brings the band to a place less tinged with grunge than their earlier work, but still packs more punch than adult-alternative pop.
As with Slothrust’s prior efforts, the moments where they dial back the heavier rock sound to give vocalist Leah Wellbaum more breathing room to open and really sing are where the magic happens. The first two songs are fun, but things just start clicking into place with “Courtesy.” I did not expect Lizzy Hale of hard rock group Halestorm to show up on “The Next Curse,” but that doesn’t mean the band have suddenly embraced stadium rock. When the guitar stomps into place they find some common ground despite the two artists not normally being in the same sonic zip code. It ends up working better than expected.
The album’s lead single, “Strange Astrology,” makes more sense in the context of the album as a whole. On first listen, it’s the smooth, hooky flow that stands out most, but after further listening, its sense of humor comes through, echoing all the astrology memes littering my social media feeds. The piano leading into “Waiting” brings in a more thoughtful mood, while also dialing in the crunchiest guitar tone on the album thus far. This is not the album’s only introspective, piano-centric moment, as Slothrust continue in this direction with “King Arthur’s Seat,” a track that bears a more pronounced Beatles influence.
There is a darker creep to the more emotionally urgent “White Rabbits,” making it stand out as one of the album’s strongest. It also came as a surprise to hear that the title track that closes the album is a soulful folk song—the harmonies are perfect, reminiscent in some ways of Pink Floyd’s more straightforward moments.
Parallel Timeline is an album without filler. It’s a new direction for Slothrust, and one that might require a few listens to fully adjust to, but once that adjustment takes place, don’t be surprised if it draws you in for repeat listens.