Steel Flower Music (label)
11 January 2016 (released)
17 July 2016
Christopher Sluka perfectly fits one of the three or four archetypes you think of when you imagine the frontman of a gothic rock group. Tall, imposing frame, sunken cheekbones, and long blonde hair, straight as an arrow. If he wasn't making music, you could picture him performing grand illusions in Las Vegas. The dramatic frontman found commercial success in Japan through the nineties with his dark, post-punk sound. Introversions, his tenth album, is the latest release from the San Diego singer and multi-instrumentalist who's syncopated groove rock is carrying on the tradition of gothic rock pioneered by groups like The Cure and Bauhaus. The album reintroduces his biggest songs to a western audience.
The first two songs, 'Valentine Lies' and 'San Diego Zoo' showcase Sluka's dramatic vibrato over the light shuffles. His cadence and the wistful, semi-psychedelic lyrics echo lighter Bowie fare like 'Fantastic Voyage' or more recent work from Hours... or Heathen. A rendition of his hit 'Dr. Strangelove' features hooky guitar leads, and a punchy '80s arena rock beat.
The latter half of the album is stronger than the first with songs that fully embrace the gothic influence in his music. 'Higher' features wispy, swirling vocals and a beautiful female backing. In 'Severed' Sluka's voice opens up and howls. 'Sadder than Sad' is quintessential gothic rock blending an upbeat musical backing with existentially wrenching lyrics a la Robert Smith. The album's closer 'Gothic Cavelier' is the record's strongest and acts as a mission statement. The album would almost be more effective if the track listing were completely reversed.
Although the album is hit and miss, the stand-outs hold their own against The Cure or the solo work of Bauhaus' Peter Murphy. It's surprising that he hasn't received major recognition on this side of the Pacific. This album gives the western world a second chance to get to know the art of Sluka.