The Slackers

The Question

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Sometimes growing up is the worst thing that can happen to a rock & roll band. However, it's almost always the best thing that can happen to a ska band. Why? Because when ska bands grow up, they slow down and start paying attention to craft, the last thing on the mind of most young skasters. The Slackers are something of a departure from the norm in that regard -- they've sounded like grown-ups from day one. But their latest effort still shows the effects of growth and maturation, both musical and emotional. For one thing, there's almost as much reggae as ska here: the elastic rocksteady beat of "Knowing" follows close on the heels of the Latin ska bounce of "Manuel," while the 2 Tone inflections of "And I Wonder?" lead directly into the straight one-drop riddim of "No More Crying." For another thing, bandleader Vic Ruggiero is worried about mortality and the nature of love, and his lyrics are all the better for it. Songs like "The Question" and "Have the Time" actually reflect some serious and skillful thinking -- another rarity in the world of ska, quite frankly. If the Slackers keep getting better, things are going to get scary very quickly.

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