There are two kinds of bands who can get away with putting the word “fuck” in an album title. Bands who are so enormously huge that the normal label/retailer objections are overridden by the dancing images of dollar signs in front of everyone’s eyes, and bands that simply don’t give a fuck. Iceland’s Singapore Sling is the latter.
Singapore Sling have been slinging their brand of fuzzed out lo-fi psych for 15 years now, and I feely admit to being way late to the party. Holly has been into them for quite a while – she bought 2004s Life is Killing My Rock ‘N’ Roll years ago, and finally managed to finagle an Airwaves schedule enough to get me in the right place at the right time to see them live back in 2013. They played in front of the little 12 Tónar record store inside the main lobby area of Reykjavik’s opera house, Harpa, in an Airwaves off-venue set (below), and while the sound wasn’t at it’s best, it didn’t have to be with Singapore Sling’s style. The funny thing is that during their set I went downstairs to use the restroom, which is right under where the band was set up, and it sounded fantastic down there. Go figure.
Unfortunately Psych Fuck hadn’t been released yet when we were in town for Airwaves this year, so I had to order a copy from my friends over at Lucky Records (and of course took that opportunity to also order a few other records as well because, well, I’m a junkie…). My understanding is that the vinyl release is limited to 500 copies – 400 on black vinyl with a red cover like mine, and 100 on red vinyl with a black cover. It comes with a download card, which is great because I’ve been playing the hell out of it for the last few weeks while at work, and in fact I’m listening to it on my computer as I write this because, you know, sometimes the mp3 is just more convenient.
Singapore Sling fills every second of every song on Psych Fuck with sound, most of it densely layered with distortion. It’s fuzzy and raw with all kinds of different effects applied to both the music and the vocals. It’s like filtering your music through cheesecloth, leaving the chunky parts in the bag while other parts ooze through the material. The songs are driving and pushing and pulsing and unstoppable, even the more chill ones. The band that Singapore Sling reminds me most of is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but even those similarities are tenuous – it’s all lo-fi fuzzy psych rock ‘n’ roll, and frankly that’s all you need to know. Probably the strongest musical connections to the past are “Na Na Now,” “The Underground,” and “Give Me Some Other,” a trio of very Lou Reed/Velvet Underground sounding tracks with jangly music and slightly strained vocals.
There’s a lot to love on Psych Fuck, though I won’t lie – by time it comes to an end my ears are flat out tired. There’s something about Singapore Sling’s music… when the album is over, the remaining silence is almost disorienting in its own right, such is the sonic trip they take you on.