Reviews The Slow Death Born Ugly, Got Worse

The Slow Death

Born Ugly, Got Worse

When The Soviettes’ Annie Sparrows voice starts Born Ugly, Got Worse devoid of instrumentation, it’s a crisp and honest delivery that complements leader Jesse Thorson’s heart-wrenching style. But once the full band kicks in for the second verse, it’s clear that The Slow Death have driving punk rock at their heart and soul, with as many singalongs and middle-fingers as there are beers in the air. After a few records with backing band The Falling Angels, Thorson has fully turned away from the stand-up bass and country tinge. The band has also been promoted to the namesake.

The Slow Death is something of an All-Star group, with D4’s Paddy Costello on bass and rent-a-drummer Mikey Erg joining the rhythm section (in addition to guest spots from Sparrows and Dear Landlord’s Zack Gontard). However, the band still sounds like Thorson, with his recognizable voice and delivery—there’s just a lot more volume and a faster tempo. In short, The Slow Death is a punk band minus the subgenre hyphens. That’s not to say that Thorson has abandoned his writing style: the songs are still awash in substance abuse and regret, with something of a cathartic Saturday night punk house feel that overrides the downright misery in many of the lyrics. The biggest difference between Slow Death and his previous bands is the prominence of the guitar and the increase in group vocals.

The changes serve to give his songs an energetic boost. When he laments, “I’ve spent too much time getting wasted,” in “Song 1 Side A,” it’s full born energy a la Dear Landlord, instead of the reflective Falling Angels sound. A group repetition of “Wasted!” afterwards reinforces this, with a fist-in-the-air emphasis. The energy carries throughout. “Stay High” takes a bit more of a Pretty Boy Thorson turn, with a more prominent bass and, well, downer lyrics, but it’s sandwiched between rockers in a way that creates a momentary reflection, not a mood-changer. While it starts strong, there is a bit of a lull toward the middle.

The Slow Death is a high energy, heavy drinking band that sounds surprisingly confident in their sound for a first record. The singalongs, mostly built around a cynical worldview, are anthemic and to the point, with a familiar East Bay structure that utilizes breakdowns and big choruses to drive the point home. They’d be right at home on a bill with Dan Padilla, Dear Landlord, or Off With Their Heads.

7.9 / 10Loren
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
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7.9 / 10

7.9 / 10

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