The funny thing about debut albums is that they’re filled with so much promise, blissful ignorance, and a full beating heart filled with the utmost purpose. Washington, DC’s The Slang are able to capture that early magic that bands would kill for at this stage of their career. Divide, in a lot of ways, investigates where we are as a society today, but it’s vibrant guitar tones and uplifting choruses keep the material from sinking into the abyss. When I last caught up with the band for an interview, the band appeared to be completely flattered by my early praise of their album that I got an advance copy of. After explaining to The Slang (comprised of John Bobo and Felix Nieto) just how great their debut is, I hope I was able to instill some new-found confidence in this band that I feel everyone should turn their immediate focus onto.
The breathtaking opener, “Nothing Lasts Forever” reminds me of the sound that the Goo Goo Dolls perfected on Dizzy Up The Girl, and The Slang are able to introduce themselves in a captivating way not normally seen at this early stage of a career. The song explodes through the speakers early on and Bobo’s vocals sound endearing, fulfilling, and packing plenty of purpose behind each well thought out lyric. Their current single, ”Disguise” follows the great introductory track by bringing further depth to their rich guitar-based sound. Nieto, who also is credited for the production, deserves plenty of accolades for his work in bringing out the best performance in their sound that is poised for radio success, assuming they get the right push.
The title track comes at a perfect time in the set and it really encapsulates the beauty The Slang are able to convey on their debut. Bobo drifts from swooning vocals to belted out verses towards the end of the track to drive home the point that this band will have no trouble finding a future recording contract, if that’s something they desire. The polished production is absolutely top-notch, yet never overproduced, in order to bring out the majestic beauty of each individual song.
My personal favorite in the set comes on “Fiction,” a brilliantly balanced song that unfolds like a well-crafted novel with surprises, twists and turns, and yet leaves the audience wanting even more of that complex songwriting. It really has the vibe of radio staple bands like The Fray and Switchfoot, with a sound that’s hard to describe unless you’re hearing it first-hand. What the band does particularly well on this track is to sound familiar, yet keeping their own authenticity to their core sound to make them stand apart.
If there are any faults on Divide, they are surely well-hidden. The middle sequencing with the brooding “Break the Rules,” and the energetic “Broken Promises” showcase the rich textures that The Slang are able to paint with through their sound. “Speed of Sound” gives off a dance-worthy vibe, with a pulsating synth line similar to The 1975’s “Heart Out” song from their debut. With so much pure, blissful energy packed behind each of these songs, it feels like discovering one of music’s best-kept secrets in the indie music world.
By the time you reach the album closer, “To The End, ” you’re wondering where the time went, and will be reaching for the replay button to take the journey all over again on Divide. The sky is truly the limit for The Slang who have suddenly released one of my absolute favorite records of 2021, and made one of my favorite debut albums to come out in quite some time.