On new album Summery, Edmonton punk-rockers Slates go for a more optimistic outlook than they're used to. After recording with Steve Albini for 2013's Taiga, the steadfast quartet returned to the famed punk producer for their fourth effort.
Slates open Summery with "Yellowknife," packing it with ringing guitars and walloping drums, setting a precedent for the rest of the album. Throughout, Slates fuse linear, straightforward melodies with coarse but intricate guitars, resulting in a mostly engaging push-pull dynamic.
Summery feels a bit stifling, at times but is given breathing room courtesy of three untitled instrumental tracks interspersed throughout the half-hour runtime. This works particularly well after the second interlude, leading into the album's title track, where vocalist James Stewart coolly states "Let's go outside, take in some air" over some tenacious guitar interplay. The song's bridge quickly crumbles into a turbulent storm of caustic guitars cranked to the max before Stewart emphatically yells, "I'm ready for summer!" — a hopeful exclamation rather than a gleeful one.
A fearless mix of post-hardcore and anthemic rock with enough variety to bite through any genre clichés, Summery finds the veteran group delivering their usual brand of honest and pragmatic guitar-driven music, all while quietly becoming one of the more consistent punk outfits in Canada. (New Damage)