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Album review: The Sluts - Virile

Album review: The Sluts - Virile

Why am I sitting in my office at 6 a.m. listening to a band named The Sluts? Perhaps it’s insomnia; it could be that it’s tough to sleep through a dream about the Three Stooges playing badminton with Presidents Taft, Reagan, and Taylor. Maybe it was my damned barking dog. But mostly, the band’s name drew me from my bed at this ungodly hour, and to the music. What self-respecting rock fan could possibly avoid a band named The Sluts? It should draw you like a magnet to a pile of metal shavings and rusty razor blades, It is unavoidable. Did I mention this two-piece from Lawrence is named The Sluts? The Sluts, I say! The Sluts!!!
The music on the band’s release Virile is rock ‘n roll, plain and simple. Finally, the tide may be changing, shifting back toward guitars and volume. Is electronic music finally ready to shoot itself in the head, to make room for the glory that is rock ‘n roll? It sure as fuck sounds like it. “Flip the Tape Over,” the album’s opener, blasts out of the gate like a fire-breathing dinosaur from a time when music was released on tapes before it was cool and ironic to release new music on cassettes. It is a strange collision of Mudhoney-like power and a Bruce Springsteen story; a song that, on paper, must’ve been a mess but on tape is incredible, firing on all cylinders.
It is clear The Sluts (Kristoffer Dover and Ryan Wise) worship at the altar of grunge. There are flashes of the movement and her greatest acts are slathered all over Virile: Tad, The Fastbacks, The Fluid, Nirvana (especially on “My Hour,” a track reminiscent of “Return of the Rat,” a Wipers’ tune later covered with love by Nirvana), Green River, The Gits, a pre-fame Soundgarden, The U-Men, they are all here. However, do not get me wrong, there is something else, something lurking below the slime. The Sluts are not simply a band regurgitating their influences. They are a band acknowledging what came before and deconstructing it. Isn’t that what rock ‘n roll should do? What it’s meant for? Worshipping your heroes while simultaneously blowing them up into a billion pieces? The Sluts do that in spades.
“I Want You To Die” is a stomp that reminds me of Joan Jett’s “Do You Want To Touch Me?” except instead of talking about sex, it’s “it’s not like I hate you girl / I just want you to die.” Obviously this guy has issues. “Loose” is a power-driven ass shaker, “Misdemeanor” opens “Hey Mom and Dad / I got picked up last night” then rips into garage punk at its finest.
The dark “Friends” has a Tad Doyle licked guitar pushing a song about a guy whose friends have all quit smoking, quit drinking; it’s about the fears of growing up and growing old. Again, it is The Sluts tapping a vein and drinking deep of the rock n roll monster. Moreover “Victim,” the closer, is a turn-it-up middle finger to all those who were never there to save us from ourselves.
There must be something in the water in Lawrence. Over the last couple of years, great rock bands have been popping up left and right. The Sluts, Black on Black, Mr. and the Mrs., Stiff Middle Fingers—all of these bands have pushed aside the banjo wielding masses, let their freak flags fly and insist that rock ‘n roll will not be allowed to die a slow, boring amplifier free death.

The Sluts’ Virile is a work that was made by and for people who love rock n roll. Goddamn, I’m so happy I couldn’t sleep this morning.

--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others

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