Review: Sluka “Introversions”

“Introversions” is the tenth studio album by singer/ songwriter Christopher Sluka. “Introversions” is a distillation of 1980’s pop from David Bowie to Simple Minds. It is also a singular vision as Sluka, the sole songwriter, plays all the instruments on the album.

The album really isn’t nearly as morose and depressing as the cover might lead you to believe. I promise.

‘Valentine Lies’ sets the album in motion with the vibe of a late 70’s Italian horror theme married to the moodier side of mid-1980’s pop music.

‘A San Diego Zoo’ is a jaunty guitar jangler accompanied by a hooting whistle reminiscent of the call of the saw-whet owl, which is animalistically appropriate for a song that mentions meerkats at the zoo where, I imagine, they’re safe from the predations of owls.

‘Doctor Strangelove’ revs up the energy levels. It’s a lively rocker from start to finish. A track of crowd noise has been put to the song, and depending how you feel about such a musical move in general will determine whether you find it adding to the song’s energy or detracting from the music.

‘Beautiful’ picks up with maracas shaking to a dancable proto-industrial beat playing along to a tune that recalls Joshua Tree era U2.

‘Fear of Ordinary Life’ can’t but help remind the listener of the Beatles with its lullaby plucked strings (although it’s not going to put you to sleep) and weeping violin and cello sounds.

That’s Captain Sluka to you

In case anybody would make the claim that playing all the instruments on the album isn’t ambitious enough, when he’s not busy flying jets or running long distance, Sluka is also filming music videos for all thirteen songs on “Introversions” for a Blu Ray release coming this November.

The video for ‘Gothic Cavalier’, a song that manages to sound both grim and hopeful, (don’t ask me how; I don’t know. I barely know what I mean when I say it; I just know it’s true) juxtaposes shots of Sluka and his band playing, with images of executions, industrial machinery, third world poverty, frantic city life and war – all of it ending suddenly in silence as if the world is something that can be turned off, and maybe that’s the point of it. Maybe the world is something that can be unceremoniously switched off like a guitar amp.

‘Sadder Than Sad,’ another song that, invokes a wee bit of U2, isn’t the sadder-than-sad song one would expect. It’s upbeat, and the video for it has a surprising amount of smiling, traipsing, and wind in the hair going on. So, much as how I warned you not to judge the album by its cover, neither can the songs be judged by their titles. Let that be a lesson to you. Let that be a confusing lesson to you.