Photo By: Noah Nickel via Apple Music
The American alt-rock band Slothrust released their fifth album Parallel Timeline last week. It is more mellow than previous albums, with a brighter overall aesthetic. Many of the same themes and images crop up as in previous albums and although the sound isn’t entirely new, there’s a clear progression from their previous album The Pact.
Lead vocalist Leah Welbaum has an amazing voice, and this album places a heavy emphasis on her vocals and lyrics. Slothrust is known for complex lyricism and Parallel Timeline is no exception. Fans of the intricate electric guitar solos from previous albums will not be disappointed, there are a couple of solid ones on this album.
As a fan of The Pact, this really does feel like a natural progression for the band, but fans of their earlier albums may be disappointed by the softer, less traditional rock sound. It does exist in the same world as the songs “Horseshoe Crab” and “Some Kind of Cowgirl,” but overall, it has fewer stand-out than previous albums.
The album has a very unified sound, but some of the songs are so similar that they don’t stand out much at all. “King Arthur’s Seat” encapsulates the more mellow rock sound Slothrust is going for with this album. “The Next Curse” stands out because of its strong guitar and an eerie piece of spoken text that underscores the imagery of the song. “Courtesy” has the awesome lyric, “I tried to play it cool but I’m coming in hot.” These all exemplify the more standard songs on the album that help to make up its distinct sound.
There are a couple of outstanding songs, like “Once More for the Ocean,” which the band released early. This was a great song to use to excite fans about the album. It’s catchy, fast-paced, and musically satisfying. It’s one of those songs you can pick up the words of easily after one or two listens, I’m sure lots of people were playing it in anticipation of the release of the rest of Parallel Timeline.
“Waiting” is a strong song that has a lot of similarities to other songs by the band, but it lacks some of the melancholy qualities found on their previous albums. It’s a good listen for people who are missing the old sound or are just hearing about Slothrust now and don’t know where to start.
“A Giant Swallow” is melancholy and far more acoustic than fans might expect. It’s a sad song with pretty vocals, a description that seems to characterize much of this album. Wellbaum has a really impressive vocal range and it’s songs like this one that really demonstrate that. “White Rabbits” is similar in how it demonstrates the vocal experimentation featured on this album; it’s a catchy song with good guitar moments.
“Parallel Timeline” is another rare acoustic song with a very different sound from previous albums. The song uses nice vocal harmonies and simple yet effective guitar to support such a lovely song. Naming the album after a song that sets itself apart from others on the album is clever and this song is a great one to end the album on as well. It’s perfectly distinct from their other music while still being similar enough to be recognizably Slothrust.
Overall, this album may take time to grow on long-time fans of the band. It has some excellent songs, and the exploration of sound is really admirable. Anyone who values really interesting lyricism and likes albums that offer a strong balance of unity and variety should not miss Slothrust’s Parallel Timeline.