For the first time since 2019, Slothrust have delighted with a new single via Dangerbird Records. “Cranium” is a true marker of the Massachusetts-born trio’s ever-intriguing blend between power and sensitivity. With the trademark longing witticism of Leah Wellbaum’s lyrics and heavy, emotive guitar playing, this song is certainly demonstrative of the group's strong position amongst some of the best indie bands of the last decade.
The song was released along with a wonderful video directed by Adam Stone. The music video evokes the feeling of an instructional video increasingly interrupted by trippy visual elements, finally letting loose alongside a guitar solo that stands out even amongst the broad catalogue of Wellbaum’s deft and tonally expressive toolbox.
Lyrically, the song seeks to place the listener in a space most Slothrust fans will be well accustomed to, playfully skirting the border between hesitancy and unapologetic expression. It is acutely aware and descriptive, yet told through a lens of intricate and arresting abstraction. “The song is about wanting to serve love but not knowing the right way to do so, often offering too much, or something unwanted entirely,” Wellbaum has said on the song’s meaning. “It is a promise to love both absurdly and impossibly with a heavy sprinkle of pain.”
“Cranium” begins with a heartfelt admission that resonates especially heavily in a time of such difficulty and constant informational influx, as Wellbaum professes: “I don’t want to be addicted to the noise / But when it goes away I want to die.”
On some level, this tradeoff seems emblematic of the song itself, as it builds from an intricate fragility to its hauntingly desirous climax, a solo which Wellbaum has stated was largely influenced by Eddie Hazel’s performance on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain.” This comparison cannot be judged a stretch, doing some true justice to the world-class psychedelic saga of anguish, releasing much of the emotional tension built up in the first half of the track, yet maintaining a sense of control, pushing and pulling the listener between peaks and troughs of intensity.
Without a doubt, this latest release—their first in over a year—has been met with significant praise from fellow Slothrust fans, striking a tantalizing figure of the band’s future endeavors.
Check out the video for Slothrust’s “Cranium” below:
(Image Courtesy: Slothrust, Adam Stone)