The Salad Boys' 2015 debut album Metalmania was a fine update on classic jangle pop, full of ringing guitars, hooky melodies, and a mix of uptempo and more relaxed tunes. They don't deviate much from their winning formula on This Is Glue, the 2018 follow-up. Unlike the previous album, which was a more collaborative effort, this time the band's songwriter Joe Sampson took control. With drummer James Sullivan in tow, he recorded the album in various locales around his hometown of Christchurch and gets a much less polished sound than on Metalmania. This approach fixed one of the main problems that album had, which was how sleek and shiny it was. Jangle pop can easily come off as too polite if there isn't some grit under the chiming guitars, and This Is Glue has just enough scruff and lo-fi appeal to avoid this pitfall. The uptempo tracks have some real kick this time around, with songs like "Psych Slasher" and "Scenic Route to Nowhere" building to frantic climaxes after seriously rocking out. The midtempo ballads have a scuffed-up beauty, with the extra layer of noise giving songs like "Exaltation" and "Hatred" more of a chance to sink in deeply instead of just skating prettily across the surface. The songs are balanced nicely throughout and are occasionally joined by a song that stretches the band's Flying Nun-meets-'80s college rock sound just a little. The mini-epic "Under the Bed" is the album's most expansive song, featuring some sweeping synth washes and Sampson's very extroverted vocals, "Going Down Slow" is a restrained, psychedelic gunfighter ballad that has violin lines snaking through it, chased by rippling slide guitar. Add these gentle stylistic deviations to the less studied sound, the snappier songs, and the overall boost in energy and This Is Glue ends up a clear improvement over the band's debut and something worth recommending to fans of classic jangle pop and anyone looking for some catchy indie rock to help them break free of all the bands that seem content to just cruise along in low gear.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra