Anna Marketti ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Calling upon the faraway, dreamy sound of their first album Not Animal, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s have returned two years since their previous album was released, with an added layer of beachy cheerfulness with Slingshot To Heaven.
Known for his melancholy, lamenting lyrics, Richard Edwards opens up the album with the first single, “Hello, San Francisco,” which is a desperate, labored ballad appropriately intertwined with sharply plucked guitar and rattling tambourine to cultivate the sense of a sort of distant memory of a city he once inhabited.
Slingshot To Heaven features the wandering, stream-of-consciousness lyrics made famous with “Broadripple Is Burning”- the song that launched the band into the playlists of many indie enthusiasts. Sort of like a caressing lullaby at times, when paid full attention, they seem to be a collection of non-sequiturs; yet, when delicately strung together atop flowing instrumentation, they become the trademark of the band. Edwards’ soft vocals contribute to the mystifying feeling produced by his ambling lyrics. The poetic stories laid down by the band are captivating and dynamic.
The third track, “Long Legged Blonde Memphis,” changes things up and opens with growling, distorted guitar and more aggressive, abrasive vocals and bass. The thundering drums move the song along as Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s becomes a grunge band. This new sound is like a suit that’s just a little too long in the arms- it doesn’t fit quite right. It’s certainly straying from their normal sound; an attempt to adopt a sleeker, sexier vibe, as Edwards croons out, “What’s a good catholic girl doing in those fishnets?”
They carry out this harder sound into the next track, “Bleary-eye-d Blue”, which still holds their traditional, softer sound underneath the assertive guitar that at times seems to overpower Edwards’ vocals. Of course, on earlier albums, the band reached out at attempts to make their sound more upbeat, but this is the first time they’ve attempted such a drastic change. The problem is, it’s not exactly in the band’s persona to embody this new angry one. It’s not necessarily a bad sound it’s just uncomfortable. It’s like biting into something you expect to be soft, and it’s hard. The song is a little reminiscent of their previous album, Rot Gut, Domestic, but the sound on that was more polished. This sounds like the band is lost–they’re not entirely certain if they wantto adopt this new sound or not. Now, if the band can figure out how to more successfully incorporate the sound they’ve already mastered into this new hardness, it could bring a new era of Margot.
As the album progresses, they recede a little back into their classic sound, while upholding this new, more insistent sound, which works out more smoothly than with the two aforementioned tunes. “Los Angeles” in particular, in keeping with the California aesthetic they’re grasping at, boasts a more confident vibe, with Edwards declaring, “I want to live in L.A.” The track is astonishingly cheery, juxtaposed with the usually melancholy guitar strumming behind it. This is a new sound that sits a little better. It’s nice to see them changing the pace a little. It shows that they’re growing as musicians.
The album closes out with what’s arguably the most strongly structured song on Slingshot To Heaven. It starts with a jazzy, retro riff that sounds a lot like the opening song in Austin Powers, and then collapses into slow guitar. A lilting tune that infects your ear with its optimism, “Wedding Song” is the exemplification of all that Margot is capable of. The narrative runs throughout the song, proposing a party to a lover. The tone shifts suddenly, as Edwards sings, “Oh my god, I’ll kill you,” yet the happy guitar still strums along behind it. This is the exact brand of irony and absurdity that Margot fans love so much about their lyrics. It shocks the listener just enough top ay even more attention to the song.
As much as people resent it as it’s happening, the reality is that bands change their sound- and they need to! Change, just as it is for everyone, is good for bands. It not only sparks creativity in the band members, it makes their jobs more exciting. Fall Out Boy came out of a four-year hiatus with a monumental comeback album that sounded nothing like their older stuff–yet fans still loved it dearly. It proved that, as a band, they were versatile, not static. Of course, they kept the elements that made them Fall Out Boy. The same goes for Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s–they’ve definitely changed their sound, but have kept undertones of their true selves.