Record Review - 3 November 06 2003

Although nowhere near as prolific as the scenes of late ’70s Athens or late ’80s Seattle, Iceland is starting to receive the same sort of cachet as those alt-rock landmarks. Most of the musical exports exude a dreary bleakness. Not surprising considering the country’s landscape, weather and isolation.

But while Björk and Sigur Ros fuss with avant-garde hoo-hah, Singapore Sling revel in a no-frills retro-gloom. Instead of tilting at futuristic windmills, the six-piece — which includes three guitars and a maracas/ tambourine player — prefers to wallow in a glazed, echoed ooze, layering guitars and percussion in a soupy Phil Spector-ish puddle of mud.

Regardless of its remote locale, Iceland obviously had no problem importing Jesus & Mary Chain records, because Sling drips grungy yet melodic guitar noise-pop with Reid brothers’ intensity. Snarling, feedback-drenched guitars layer like honey over songs whose titles — “Midnight,” “No Soul Man” and “Roadkill” — prowl the dark end of the street.

A shadowy cover of “Dirty Water” out- menaces the original. The Standells would have never dared end their seemy, debauched Boston tribute with a minute of Sonic Youth-patented guitar-drone.

Like watching a car accident, Singapore Sling draws you in to its disconcerting world of crushed metal, enticing you to peek under the wreckage to catch a glimpse of the blood and guts underneath.

Singapore Sling plays the Echo Lounge Tues., Nov. 11. $8.