There’s a certain nihilism to Singapore Sling. It’s not the nihilism that burns hot and causes one to lash out at the world, but more one of resignation, the sense of a unceasing buzz in your mind that you can’t shake, a slow death by a thousand cuts, the adding of the tiniest weights onto your chest done so slowly that you can’t even sense the change but that over time makes it harder and harder to breathe. Hell, it’s right there in the song titles. Killer Classics gives us “Nothing Matters But Rock ‘N’ Roll”. Prior to that we got “Nothing’s Theme” and “Nothing And Nowhere” on an album called Kill Kill Kill (Songs About Nothing), and “Nuthin’s Real” on The Tower of Fornicity. And the list goes on. “The Nothing Inside”; “Nothin’ Ain’t Bad”; and a possible candidate simply called “Noth”. That’s a whole lot of nothing. If there are three overarching themes to Singapore Sling’s music they are:
- Death (including killing and various forms of destruction)
- Rock ‘N’ Roll
My perception is that in this trinity Nothing and Death are the elements out there in the world, the weights being put on top of you, the inevitable outcome to life. Rock ‘N’ Roll, however, is the salvation. It’s the one thing that cracks the wall of nihilism, the one thing that makes life worth living. I’m probably extrapolating a bit on the Rock ‘N’ Roll part, but bear with me. “Nothing Matters But Rock ‘N’ Roll”, we’re told on the latest album, which is a step in the right direction from when the Slingers opined back in 2004 that Life Is Killing My Rock ‘N’ Roll (which included a song of the same name). The feeling I get when I listen to Singapore Sling is that of driving at night, the windows rolled down and the air coming up from the road still radiating heat from the day’s scorching sun, racing to escape that constant buzz of Nothing and Death chasing you in the rear view mirror, trying to outrace fate. And, of course, blasting Singapore Sling’s psych soundtrack to it all on the car stereo.
Right from the opening riff of “Suicide Twist” (Death again!) it was clear what Singapore Sling has in store for us on Killer Classics (more Death). They’ve honed their brand of shoegazey-psych to a sharp edge and they use it with the precision of surgeons, cutting away the pretense and bloat of what rock has become and skinning it down to its most basic and rawest elements. The drum beats are the relentless pressure of life, the fuzz of the guitars the unceasing pressure trying to overwhelm you, the bass following your heartbeat as it rises and falls as you struggle to maintain your sanity, and the vocals are the voice inside your head, the one that sometimes tells you that you can do it, but at other times calls for the sweet release of death.