Wingtip Sloat have never been an easy notion to pin down. Active in the early ‘90s, The Viginia / DC band cropped up on small labels with handmade singles that immediately fell out of print. They found their way to the arms of experimental haven VHF and began a string of idiosyncratic excess with the label that spanned “7s, a couple of albums, and a comp that dredged up more than thirty tracks of pre-label singles and compilation tracks almost lost to the ether. In 1998 they issued their skewed and scrunched pop classic If Only For The Hatchery to relatively warm reviews then all but disappeared. So, it’s a bit of a shock to see the band back with ten new tracks and a deep-pocket dive of archival material that fills in a good amount of the gaps.
Not entirely sure what the band’s been up to in the interim, but Purge and Swell proves that they haven’t lost their crooked smile and pop acumen. The songs are still fishooked by jangles and slashed through with angles – catchy and immediate with overtones of Guided by Voices, Tall Dwarfs, The Clean and The Bats. Compared to a good deal of their scattered back catalog this is as refined as the Sloat has ever sounded and its downright charming. There’s sunny slouch to the new material, sluffing off their more acerbic hackles and, in deference to their previous MO, the record is remarkably cohesive in tone. The band has always had a melodic current jolting under the post-punk bite, but Purge and Swell seems to be digging for earworms like never before.
For the invested Sloat-er the album comes with a treasure trove of songs from the rehearsal rooms and cutting room floors of their past. Like that whopper of a singles comp from the early aughts, this is a lot to digest, but it gives plenty of insight to the band’s influences and process for the curious. There are plenty of short burst poppers, erratic outbursts, and covers that span from Brian Eno to Belle & Sebastian. If this is your first taste of Wingtip Sloat, the new disc is an easy entry, though it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the depths they’ve dug in he past. Still, as a standalone Sloat, its up with the best. Plenty of great bands get lost in the cracks of culture and there’s no time like now to reinvestigate the ample, winking charms of Wingtip Sloat for a while.
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