The Darkest of Discos is the fifth album release by local dance-reggae-funk band Slowcoaster, who just completed a tour of Japan and a packed schedule of CD-release stops in western Canada. After 10 years of doing their thing as a band, they gave us this introspective collection of tracks. Imagine all the questionable nights you spent at a dingy dance club, the grubby feeling of falling asleep in your club clothes, and wondering just how much beer and tequila you slammed back–that’s the overall feel of this album. Listening to The Darkest of Discos is kind of like playing back the ridiculous memories of the night before as you nurse your hangover. There are a few cringes but no real regrets that would keep you from doing it all again.
Slowcoaster’s signature funky sound is still there in The Darkest of Discos, though mostly in the second half of the album where you’ll find the most danceable tracks. The overall theme does aim for a dark, gritty sort of feel, although the sound for first half of the album takes on a vaguely “mainstream Canadian Rock” sound.
The positives: The title track is my pick for the top track. “The Darkest of Discos” is super catchy, and is probably the best example of songwriting on the album. The jumps from cliché to clever non-sequitur keep you alert and makes the songs linger afterwards. While “Town” isn’t the best lyrically, it works well as a transition into the funkier half of The Darkest of Discos and of all tracks, it’s the one that best lives up to the promise of darkness and grittiness.
The negatives: It may be a matter of personal taste, but “Fragilest Thing” kind of reminds me of something a depressed John Mayer would sing. The lyrical observations about girls and women throughout the album would be more effective if they were less frequent, and make me feel underwhelmed about otherwise talented songwriters.
Overall, The Darkest of Discos is an interesting contrast to Slowcoaster’s live acoustic release in 2007. It makes me think back to the first time I heard “Patio” (from 2004’s Where Are They Going?) and became excited about what this band has to offer. This album is a fine, solid effort, but there are no tracks that really would have caught my attention had this been my first exposure to Slowcoaster.