The Slow Death Born Ugly Got Worse

Minneapolis's the Slow Death are something like playing and winning a fantasy melodic punk rock league. The super-group consist of Zack Gontard (Dear Landlord), Annie Sparrows (the Soviettes) and the infamous Mikey Erg on drums. Members also come from Pretty Boy Thorson (frontman Jesse Thorson) and a guest appearance from Paddy Costello, of fellow Minneapolis punk band Dillinger Four. Debut album Born Ugly Got Worse opts for a combination of melodic but gruff punk rock with a nostalgic tinge of '90s post-rock. Abundant gang vocals and a quick tempo drive the album forward, with influences from the members' bands apparent ("Phantom Limb"), while simultaneously channelling the likes of Jawbreaker or Lemonheads. Drawbacks come from a lack of variation in style, hooks or tempo changes (aside from a guitar solo on "Opposite of Jesse's Girl"). There's consistency to the album that can either bore or enthral listeners. Self-loathing and self-deprecating lyrics about drinking and heartbreak ("Sleeping Somewhere Else," "Phantom Limb") are sung with ferocity but muddle together into what can feel like one 30-minute track. Nonetheless, that makes for 30 minutes of gritty, gruff, familiar pop punk that doesn't become tiresome or overdone. (Kiss of Death)