Record review: Sloth Metropolis – Departure

a3830431297_10Burbling under the radar for the past 12 months Sloth Metropolis is a group who beg one very important question: can this band possibly be as good as their name?

Pitching themselves as “progressive folk-rock” – a moniker that could incorporate anything from the flute-assisted hard rock of Jethro Tull or the experimental folktroonica of Beck or Devendra Banhart – the group’s stoned humour and unusual shifting arrangements make them a decidedly uncommercial proposition and all the better for it.

Opening with the woozy ‘Sloth of the Metropolis’, which incorporates bizarre Syd Barrett lyrics, Calum Calderwood’s distorted fiddle playing, a jazz scat breakdown and frenetic shredding, Sloth Metropolis delight in the unexpected and the surreal, flitting from idea to idea with little thought for coherency or consistency.

Just when you think the Jefferson Airplane-meets-Fairport Convention ‘Modern Aristotle’ might settle for a pretty folksy melody there enters a barrage of coins clattering and parrots squawking to push it out into experimental territory once more.

The almost instrumental ‘Wee Fib’ is more obviously riff based and suffers from the relatively low production standards but there’s still time for a Celtic fiddle motif and spacey echoing vocals reminiscent of a folkier version of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

‘Big Lie’ is a rambling epic with touches of Led Zeppelin in its sprawling riffs and phased guitar playing.

The eclectic sounds contained within Departure might be rather like smoking up with someone who wants to show you their entire record collection at once but there’s always the delight of not knowing what’s just round the corner.

Maybe Sloth Metropolis aren’t such slackers after all.

Words: Max Sefton

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