01 October 2021 (released)
19 October 2021
Dark, dramatic, grandiose, enigmatic. Torn from the pages of gothic post-punk lore, singer-songwriter and gifted vocalist Christopher Sluka carries the torch of glam-tinged theatrical rock and roll. Plenty of influence comes from Bowie, the godfather. So too from Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Robert Smith. Perhaps the closest in kin is Bauhaus frontman and silver baritoned vocalist Peter Murphy. The spell created by their hypnotizing voices, mystical eastern guitars, macabre 80s club synths, emotional strings, and a quasi-tribal rhythm section is used to great effect by both Sluka and Murphy in his solo work. On his latest record Figure It Out, Sluka and his band are working like a well-oiled machine. The songs on the record exhibit the flawless execution of a Broadway production.
Ominous, vampiric synths announce the title track at the outset. The tone quickly changes to triumphant fanfare. Prickly strings dance with the prancing piano and joyful horns. Sluka becomes a Wonka-esque ringmaster with his sly whispers cut with bellowing proclamations. 'Isn't It Strange' delves further into darker realms. The singer reinterprets nursery rhymes to reflect their more grisly connotations. There's a Danny Elfman quality to the interplay between Sluka and his accompanying strings.
The album's fourth single 'Vye On Vyattav' emerges as the album's true standout. An anthemic syncopated tom-tom drum riff, synths floating in like visiting ghosts, and beautiful arpeggiated guitar score a warmly reflective piece. Sluka's husky whisper shakes with a throaty weight. His chorus vocals open to the heavens. A powerful vibe track. On its tail, the quirky 'The Runner' bubbles with a spooky talkbox effect and hollering down the pits of hell vocals. A track just in time for the month of Hallow's Eve.
Christopher Sluka has been working in this genre for some time and this album feels like some of his best work. The moody wild ideas are met and elevated by the band. Lover's of Peter Murphy are well-advised to take in this grand songsmith.