Eisenhower may come across as a striking change from The Slip of old, but this evolution of prowess and purpose has been in motion since those early, experimental Gecko days. The strong indie slant may not have become quite evident until 2003’s extraordinary release, Alivelectric, but the trio has certainly been developing their identity and pushing conventional boundaries since the beginning. So while Eisenhower may eventually prove to be just another step in a larger, ongoing Slip journey, it proves to be the band’s monumental achievement nonetheless. Not so much for it’s distinction from previous efforts, but for proving that a fledging band that debuted with such spark could persevere, and ultimately, a decade later, change the way you look at rock.
Melding noise rock with indie pop sensibilities, The Slip capture the vibrant rock landscape painted by fellow contemporaries, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s and Sub Pop’s acclaimed outfit, Rogue Wave. From the anthemic “Even Rats” and the psychedelia of “The Original Blue Air,” to the haunting ballad work of “Suffocation Keep” and “If One of Us Should Fall,” the three-piece create a teetering balance of artful dissonance. Beneath a marriage of delicate melodies and raucous avant-garde thematics, drummer Andrew Barr carefully holds everything together with unwavering precision. It’s an anchor weight that allows brother Brad Barr’s disparate vocals and Thurston Moore-esque guitar work to float alongside Marc Friedman’s extensible bass lines – the crux of the sibling pendulum.
"The Soft Machine,” it’s predecessor "First Panda in Space," and the accompanying “Life In Disguise” are a strong centerpiece, offering the clearest picture of just how far they’ve come. But ironically, it’s the closing track, the 8-plus minute "Paper Birds" that solidifies any doubts that this rather unassuming band would inevitably end up here. It’s signature Slip, only more mature and uninhibited, and it feels eerily like a half-full basement of The Middle East back in ’97. And for that, Eisenhower is a monumental record.
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