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San Diego’s Sluka have returned with their latest full-length, Figure It Out, and what any listener will quickly figure out is that this is one of their biggest, most theatrical and orchestral works yet. The band is led by namesake Christopher Sluka, and the album combines elements of ‘80s post-punk, goth, and new wave, but expands them and blows them up to grander proportions, as if The Cure had a forgotten prog-leaning album. Although the songs are all dark and moody, the influences they grab from Depeche Mode, David Bowie, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at their most bombastic, arena-worthy proclivities.
The opening title track “Figure It Out,” a baroque anthem, quickly sets the tone with Music for the Masses brass, Sluka’s emotionally wrought Bowie-esque vocals, and a melody that is constantly morphing and evolving. Every song is unpredictable. For instance, “Isn’t It Strange” may start with dark synthpop rumblings before quickly bursting into a style that sounds more like Coldplay only to recede once again into something more brooding and sinister. The band’s approach to synthesizers and dynamics is not altogether dissimilar to Pulp, especially on “Shout Out,” and because of this Figure It Out is a highly captivating opus that is impossible to pin down to one era. It has glimpses of the 70s, 80s, 90s, even the future, and ultimately nothing today sounds quite like what Sluka are making.
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