Slaughter beach, dog have returned from the depths of writing and recording to unveil, “Safe and Also No Fear”. The long awaited return treated us with two singles that felt drastically different from the previous release of “Birdie”, a darker tone is noticeable in “one down” and “good ones”. Ewald’s writing is complex and interesting, and it can hit on the most positive and relatable ideas and in the same take you down a relatable road that isn’t so peaceful. The creative growth on this record is exactly what was needed from the side project, now full time band.
Ewald has stated artists you’ve grown to appreciate as you get older, as heavy hitters for influence for the record. Wilco being the biggest and most evident influence on the record, which is very clear in “one down”. Ewald going as far to say, “I like Wilco now and I used to think Wilco was so boring!” Modest mouse seems like another heavy influence on the record, with long instrumentals and twisting vocals, Ewald has drawn out the darker influences of his in such a beautiful way. Ewald has stated, “We’re all the kind of people that if there’s a four-minute groove, we all like that now,” and “That was something I used to think was dumb three years ago,” gives a new breath to the band as a whole, and certainly feels like there are mountain goats and weakerthans influences flowing through the album as well, giving a darker sound to the more folksier expected record.
At thirty eight minutes long, the record seems to zoom past in the blink of eye. With lengthier tracks, “Black Oak” clocking in over six minutes, the band has created a more atmospheric sound with lyrical content to match. With lines like “I put one down, I walk around, I play the game, I go out and live it up” in the opening track, “One Down”. Painting beautiful imagery with “Black Oak”, “Deep inside the country, he went out for some air, Amid an awful night of eating household objects on a dare, A tea towel, a handful of refrigerator magnets, and a watch”. And with the album closer, “Anything”, creating a relatable verse that won’t ever feel like a gut punch, “You were five, Then you were ten, Then you were nineteen, One day you’ll be eighty four, With your sister you would talk about growing old, You’re not talking anymore, You see your friends after your shift down at the restaurant, You see your friends out at the bar, But when you see them in the supermarket aisle, They don’t know who the hell you are”. The band has always been able to capture images that are vivid and always having a line or two that really get at your heart, but this record has so many moments of these that it’s hard not to feel an incredible connection to the record no matter where you are in life.
Slower, heavier in content and more bluesy. Feels more confrontational with oneself. Still has glimpses of the more pop sounds but ultimately carrying a heavier backdrop giving the band a little versatility and not feeling stale.