Slow Corpse Continues Its Journey Through Sedated Power Pop with Bite Your Tongue
Slow Corpse got its start in Ashland and they have been actively involved in the Rogue Valley music community for six years. They signed with indie label Tender Loving Empire in 2017 and released their first studio album Fables the following year. Composed of lead vocalist Mitchell Winters and Brenton Clarke, the power-chill duo sets the mood by offering almost 40 minutes of R&B-infused dance pop on valium with their second studio release, Bite Your Tongue. Slow Corpse has a very refreshing sound for the Southern Oregon region where there is such a prevalence of Americana, folk rock, and bluegrass.
Thematically, the album explores being caught up with the plaguing thoughts about the insecurity of your relationships. Ambivalence, self-deprecation, and tapping into one’s true feelings (which then leads to some acceptance and self-protection) are the ponderings one finds here. I would go as far as to say that the title perhaps suggests the artists’ message to himself – to hold off speaking and watch the next move of his current relationship interest, avoiding the likelihood of putting his own foot in his mouth. In their bio and album information, one thing Slow Corpse says about Bite Your Tongue is that it’s a “longing for understanding in the mire.”
Musically, the album emphasizes the trap beats/ 808’s, the low pitched vocal effects, and the layers of synths that listeners of artists such as Drake or Still Woozy have come to expect. The Slow Corpse live band split up in 2019, and this is no surprise when listening to Bite Your Tongue, which relies even more heavily on technological studio effects than its predecessor did.
The record opens with the lazadazical dream pop of “In My Head,” with Winters declaring “I got shot by an arrow” and “I’m thinking that I’m overrated, no.” Bending guitar note strains and layers of synths support Winters’ quest to get out from being trapped in his own head.
Each song on the album is quite short; most are two minutes and some change. Track number nine, “Wasted,” is the first one that upon ending, I realized I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Labeled by their own track descriptions as “Post — Post-Punk,” it comes on like a slightly more aggressive device with a sense of urgency and flirts towards industrial moments. The song starts with a snippet of recorded dialogue that gets interrupted by a driving low, soaking wet bass synth effect. Trap elements round out the sound which grows in intensity towards each chorus.
It could be argued that just like its predecessor, Fables, this album is more about the overall mood it projects, rather than the individuality of certain tracks and their potential for “hit single” status. On the flipside of the coin however, Bite Your Tongue, much like Fables, has some of its strongest tracks at the end, making Slow Corpse a band who really know how to finish off a record with a bang.
R&B flavors are especially pronounced in “Playing Sick,” which being one of the longest tracks on the album is also one of the best. Winters relays to his love interest that the ball’s in their court with “but it’s up to you” and “whatcha wanna do” although in the lyric explanation Slow Corpse has said that the protagonist in this song has already woken up to the fact that “love is selfish.” Basically, this is the song equivalent to declaring “It’s Complicated” as your relationship status on social media. One of the most interesting moments on the album is when this track segues into a groovy yet sparse percussion break after the listener is immersed into a “party mingling” background noise interlude where Winters continues his vocal phrasing.
“Confused” starts with a nice, solid beat with humming backup vocals underneath. There’s a big shift in tempo for the outro where a sub-octave voice effect provides extra heaviness to the already present thick, wet bass.
The album closes with “This Song is 4 U,” with the lyrics “I know I’m fuckin’ up, probably hangin’ out too much” being followed immediately by an intense instrumental punk rage moment, illustrating Winters’ frustration with being in his head way too much.
I’ve heard that Slow Corpse can get pretty wild in their live shows, and so perhaps more of this angst heard on the last track would come out in front of an eagerly anticipating crowd. Overall, Bite Your Tongue does a great job with incorporating the right amount of these more dramatic elements while keeping the overall sedated vibe the album is meant to have as its thematic mood.
Bite Your Tongue is available from Tender Loving Empire in multiple formats on Jan. 29.