Local emo punk band Play It Slower recently released their debut EP, which consists of five grueling and grungy tracks. Dark and tangled guitar riffs are riddled throughout the mostly straightforward and melancholy vocal delivery, taking an existential approach to personal issues like loss.
“Glasgow” opens up by describing the similarities between crippling mental doubts and a harsh winter, as the guitars switch between spastic riffs and bold hooks. The chorus provides some context for the metaphors, “I wrote it on the back of a place mat with a knife and you kept it / I’d had it forever in my head and you kept it / and good friend, at the very first breeze / I always start to believe that you’re leaving me,” and the complementary guitars keep the song interesting. “Calendar’s Song” feels positively gut-wrenching while focusing on the passage of time, the first half in particular feels absolutely mournful about missing out, “My future manifests, unless I’m too reckless.” The song continues to make a stark realization in its belting vocals, “Grab the reigns while you can / Know that these lines do not exist / I’m bound by calendar clocks / I am now forever not,” while the instrumentals blow up with mesmerizing riffs and heavy-hitting drums, before going into a tight, steady, conclusive jam.
“Pyramid” begins with some grand guitar strums, and then comes in full force with a crisp, attractive drum beat. The guitars seem to get increasingly intricate, and the vocals take over on problems that are on a societal level, “I am pretending not to read your cardboard signs / Cause I can see the guilt in both your eyes and mine / Isn’t the silence just damning? / How can you blame me for not caring?.” The track circles back around in skillful fashion, once it starts to gain some energy it jumps back into those grand strums that opened the song. “Ontario” is one of the more dissonant cuts, with heavy, layered guitars and vocals that express a distaste for “dragging my body to shitty bars” among other situations. This track is the most full-throttle of the bunch, and it gets right to the point of wanting to skip town after being sick of your surroundings for too long.
Continuing with the theme of getting out of town, “Southern Trees” seemingly explores the connection between who we are and where we are. Bright, fleeting guitar riffs and killer drum fills open up the track, as the vocals begin to reveal their desire for change, “Virginia, you’re calling out my name / The Carolinas are doing the very, very same / I’ll float down the James / From Richmond to Rockbridge, I carry a heavy weight.” From there, the song softens up and provides context for its somber tone, “A Carolina Wren, was perched at the top of a wooden fence / A sad song it sang, as your procession pushed through the rain.” Those downtrodden lines abruptly lead into a wall of hard hitting guitars and drums, accompanied by a harmony of clean singing and screaming, “I am assured by my history / I am unsure of its destiny.”
Overall, Play It Slower has put forward a well-written and emotional EP that stands out in its crafty instrumentation and unorthodox vocal deliveries. In a genre where a lot of people end up moaning over their sad songs, Play It Slower has gone for a more heartfelt and emphatic delivery on most of the EP. The band’s best moments are peppered throughout the five songs, and result from being instrumentally experimental or aligning the instruments and vocals for grand, passionate moments.