It is hard to talk about Vancouver ‘80s wunderkinds Slow without referencing bands that came after them. It is even harder to discuss Slow without drawing on the legends that surround them: their impact on punk and grunge, their legendary Expo ‘86 performance. But since it has been reissued, I am going to try to talk about Against the Glass like I would any other album, as if they were just another band whose reputation did not precede them.
Against the Glass is easy to listen to, rock out to and enjoy – whether or not you know diddly-squat about music history. Listeners will find sonic familiarity in every nook and cranny, from the groovy bass on “I Broke The Circle” to the bluesy leads in “Haven’t Been The Same.” Each of the six tracks on this album incorporate familiar rock elements from a wide range of subgenres. Yet, Slow manages to combine these influences into something more than the sum of their parts; a distinctively garage-rock / grunge sound complimented by the diverse vocal stylings of Thomas Anselmi. Across these six short tracks, Anselmi manages to incorporate low, drawling vocals (à la Iggy Pop), punk-esque screams and frantic growls, and everything in between.
“Against the Glass”, the title track on this album, lays down some of some seriously groovy thumping drumbeats and simple, straight-ahead guitar riffs. “Black is Black” has the most fun vocal stylings from Anselmi and incorporates a lot of diversity of instrumentation, featuring an acoustic guitar being frantically strummed alongside a wah-laden lead guitar. “Out of the Cold” seamlessly incorporates saxophone and hand-drums into the musical madness. Guitarists Christian Thorvald and Ziggy Sigmund play off each other with chugging rockabilly riffs in “Bad Man” accompanied by Anselmi’s reverb-soaked roars. “Intro/In Deep” is easily the best punk song in the album, starting out with a deceptively slowOld-Western style into that melts into a fast-as-fuck tune that will make you want to get in the mosh pit and throw a few elbows.
The most striking feature of this record is how easily Slow took so many different instruments, sounds and inspirations and made them all work together like some kind of ridiculously tasty garage-rock stew. The songs are short, to the point, and don’t waste your time. The album is pure energy from beginning to end and showcases a group of young, talented musicians – and it translates amazingly even today.