Album Review: Slingshot Dakota – Break

The emo revival has been going on for so long it’s no longer really a revival and, while plenty of other writers have analysed the meaning of such things, it provides a suitable context with which to consider the career of Pennsylvanian duo Carly Comando and Tom Patterson, AKA Slingshot Dakota.

Formed in 2003 as a Latterman side-project, ‘Break is Slingshot Dakota’s fourth album and the follow-up to 2012’s excellent ‘Dark Hearts’. They were there when emo got cannibalised by the mainstream and turned into something ugly and grotesque, and they somehow managed to miss the hype of the revival, releasing ‘Dark Hearts’ about 12 months too soon to be leading the vanguard.

So, in what feels like a Sliding Doors moment, it finally seems the spotlight has hit Slingshot Dakota at just the right time. Not only have they delivered a career-defining effort, but it no longer feels like they’re playing to a small underground choir.

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Comparisons to Mates of State and Rainer Maria loom large, but Slingshot Dakota also stand proudly alongside contemporaries Alison Weiss and Kittyhawk. That said, Slingshot Dakota have their own distinct style, and this is especially true on ‘Break’. Although the sound is very much driven by keyboard and drums, there’s a cinematic feel to ‘Break’ ensuring it’s much more than the sum of its parts.

‘Monocacy’, for example, is a buzzing delight; an off-kilter pop song that would dominate the airwaves in an alternate universe, while the rumbling, percussive-heavy ‘Paycheck’ is more direct and brooding than anything their peers would concoct. The introspective ‘Too Much’ strips things right back but is simply gorgeous with Comando’s vocals shining and shimmering throughout, while opener ‘You’ is a toe-tapping delight.

Lyrically, ‘Break’ is drawn straight from Comando and Patterson’s experience – covering everything from marriage and relationships to giving up their jobs and following their dreams. It’s an intensely personal snapshot of the past four years, and although it feels like a peek behind the curtain, it never feels intrusive.

It means ‘Break’ is everything I’ve ever wanted in a ‘true’ emo album. Sincere, heartfelt and positive; “We fell in love at the right time,” sings Comando on the absolutely stunning title track. It finally feels like time will catch up on the charms of one of emo’s best kept secrets.

4.5/5

’Break’ by Slingshot Dakota is released on March 11th on Topshelf Records.

Slingshot Dakota links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

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