Album/Label: There’s Never a Reason Not to Party! / Lonely Ghost Records
Rating: 8 / 10
Josh Davis, Regina Squieri and Daniel Seibert are ready for the next phase of their career. After years of playing in their pop-punk outfit Slimfit, ripping a swath of high-energy live shows through the Midwest, and putting in work in the studio with their regular producer Maddy Ciampa, the band is eager to show the world that they mean business. Their recent interview with Music in Motion Columbus shows a band restless with excitement and energy, and their latest EP is twelve and a half minutes of whiz-bang, up-tempo rockers that reflect this enthusiasm.
There’s Never a Reason Not to Party!, Slimfit’s first studio project written and performed as a trio, sees the band branching out, loosening up, and rocking out righteously. The band’s previous studio effort, Sorry About That, saw Davis and Ciampa assembling the songs in-studio, with Squieri and Seibert mostly serving as members of the live band.
On this EP, however, each member of the band adds their own musical styles and creative flair to throw each song into sharper relief. The songwriting is leaner and more taut, giving Davis’s lyrics more of an emotional impact. The result is easily Slimfit’s finest work yet, and the best indication of their prowess as a group.
The four-tracker kicks off with Skid Rock, an exercise in build and dynamics that sees the rhythm section of Squieri and Seibert striking up a mid-tempo groove. The piece moves up and down for a bit, alternating between a head-nodding, chugging cadence and a more minimalist approach. As Davis’s vocals come in, the band slowly builds in intensity around him. “Sleeping on the couch / More than in my bed / I’m tired of runnin’ / I need a place to rest my head,” howls Davis, as the band explodes into a cathartic pop-punk anthem.
Right out of the gate, it’s clear that Slimfit is forthright with their emotions, disarming any cynical listeners immediately with sincerity and musical aplomb. It’s also clear that the jokey, fun-loving Slimfit of the recent past is a bit older, wiser, and more focused, mixing their high-spirited antics with a knowing flair for the dramatic. But, make no mistake, the band is still casual and a lot of fun, with their hearts on their rolled-up sleeves.
Next up is lead single Power of Shower, another chugging, propulsive rocker. The song begins with Davis alone on guitar and vocals, building to a crescendo that turns out to be a brilliant fake-out. On my first listen, I thought for sure the band would strike up a hands-in-the-air chorus almost immediately. Instead, they double down on the build, creating waves of rippling syncopation as the rhythm section shifts like tectonic plates underfoot. Finally, the chorus hits, and it’s every bit the release of tension you’d hope for. Davis and Squieri’s harmonies are disarmingly lovely and on-point: “They say no news is good news / But there’s no news that could be good news / No news that could be good news for me / The person that I long for me to be.”
Davis has a keen eye for details, emphasizing the numbness of daily routines and getting older (“Take out the garbage / Microwave dinner / Washing my hair, sure does feel thinner” is a particularly striking couplet). Slimfit again pulls off the neat trick of turning emotionally complex sentiments into exciting, high-energy bursts of musical positivity, all couched within a pitch-perfect pop song.
The EP’s second half begins with Dimitro Tsunami, a high-energy mid-tempo ballad with a slight hip-hop cadence. In my imagination, this is a “lighter song” – the sort of tune where a massive crowd would light up the entire arena, Zippo lighters held aloft. Squieri and Seibert tightly anchor the song at a measured pace, contrasting nicely with Davis’s double-time power chords. About two-thirds of the way through the piece, the rhythm section bottoms out for a moment, and Davis drops into a lower vocal register for the first time on the record, singing “You miss what you have when it’s gone / But never think to hold on tight, to hold on tight to it.” This change in dynamics and approach is striking, and draws out a greater emotional impact as the band comes back in behind him.
Slimfit closes out the EP with their best song yet, Pineapple Pizza. While Davis’s love of pineapples on pizza is not shared by every member of the band, which we had a good laugh about in the interview, musically they make a fantastic case for it. This song unfolds at breakneck pace, kicking off with the triumphant return of Davis’s acoustic guitar – the first and only instance on the EP – before hightailing it straight to the end of the record in two minutes flat. After the more measured rhythm of the previous song, the band practically shoots around the room like an overly shaken can of soda. It also features the band’s strongest hook and mission statement on the record: “I wanna rock, I want a beer / Don’t want my friends to live in fear / Just want a place where I can reach ya / With pineapples on my pizza.”
The solo break is perhaps the best part of any Slimfit song, ever. First a quick break for a blistering drum solo from Seibert, then an eye-popping surf-rock bass solo from Squieri. And then… Davis comes in for a hilariously abridged vocal solo (“Just wanna – ope!”), the band hangs there for a second in silence, then, with an “AHHHHHH!!!” from Davis, they drop right back in. The first time I heard this, I quite literally fell out of my chair laughing. In a lot of ways, this passage – and, really, this whole song – is quintessential Slimfit. It’s by turns exciting, upbeat, fast-paced, and unexpectedly hilarious. It’s all that and a slice of pizza (with pineapples on it, of course).
I’ve had the pleasure of hosting several Slimfit live performances in my house-venue days, back when it was just Josh Davis with an acoustic guitar in my living room. It’s been extremely gratifying to see Slimfit morph from a solo project into a full-fledged rock band over the past few years.
On this EP, more so than any other Slimfit project thus far, the band’s growth, cohesion and infectious energy is undeniable and life-affirming. As a group, they’re stronger writers and stronger musicians than ever before, and after a set of songs like this, I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
- Skid Rock
- Power of Shower
- Dimitro Tsunami
- Pineapple Pizza
Slimfit – Power of Shower