Which is an odd marketing ploy in itself, before you even start to think about the logic (or lack of it) behind putting out a six-track package. Is it an EP? Is it an album? Well, who cares really – it smacks of being different for the sake of it, which is usually an excuse for not really having anything to say. Their official website is just as irritating, taking far too long to load and favouring ‘art’ over clear navigation.
All of this is a shame, as it gets them off on the wrong foot and lots of people clearly do think The Slides have something to say – they’ve been championed by Howard Marks and nearly everyone else who’s seen them live thinks they’re going to be the Next Big Thing. They probably are – they’ve been gathering acclaim steadily over the past year, which has included an extensive tour and one previous single, Can You Feel It, which unfortunately isn’t included here.
What you do get is six tracks of swirling psychedelic Hammond organs filtered from ’60s West Coast through the Happy Mondays to Kasbian’s Processed Beats. Opening track Lethal Weapon is a laid back, hazy swirl interspersed with half-lyrics that make it obvious they really do deserve the hype they’ve been attracting. The title (and second) track has some catchy guitar-pop hooks. Their radio-friendly song lengths should help them go far: none of the tracks outstays its welcome. Up next is White Lines, with a bassline and more that pays its dues to The Beatles.
They move more towards straight guitar-rock with fourth and fifth tracks DNA and Just Can’t Take Anymore, the latter skirting perhaps a little bit to close to prog, before bringing everything back down to Earth with the acoustic slow burner of Gravity, whose ‘keep your feet on the ground’ lyrics they seem determined to heed. It’s a song that’s got ‘stadium favourite’ written all over it.
It’s also a clever reminder that The Slides know when to play it safe and when to indulge themselves without pushing it too far. The songs are remarkably catchy, sounding familiar after only a couple of plays and with enough hooks to get you foot-tapping before you notice.
In the end though, while this is all very slick and well done, it’s not really pushing any boundaries. There are plenty of other bands out there doing the same thing just as well and it’s all a little bit too much as if they’ve read the ‘rock success’ textbook and are now simply crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s.
So The Slides are really a Madchester-influenced Bon Jovi. They’d be a welcome relief sandwiched between Embrace and Starsailor at a particularly dull festival. The Baggy beats alone don’t (quite) forgive that but, had they had major label backing, the resulting mix could take them far. In fact, they could well be huge.