December 1, 2016

LP: OPS - Sluice Around

OPS offers a friendly hand with Sluice Around.

Pop-punk can so often feel like a paint-by-the-numbers game, but on Sluice Around, UK-based group OPS uses familiar tropes like friendship and anger to offer a hand to anyone listening. Opener “Too Ill” is about how dismissing depression as teen angst loses its merits as people get older. The lead singer continues her melancholic tales on the following song “Middle of the Night,” where she spends most of her time bemoaning that “I’ve got that feeling in my gut that reminds me that everything is fucked.” As the song climaxes, the band pulls an about face while scaling back the dynamics to highlight the line, “Cause everything’s perfect and I’m never scared of the control I lack or the power I have,’” before the guitars earnestly surge forward. Moments like these make Sluice Around an oddly comforting record, despite the subject matter at hand.

OPS has plenty of songs to sympathetically send to your downcast friends as well as ones celebrating friendship in general. “Naomi” is all about the joys of the titular friend, while “Over and Over” is about obsessing over a relationship gone sour. When I was listening track “Snudge,” I got choked up during the chorus of “you feel like home to me,” thinking about how that feeling of safety applied to my roommate in the other room. This band knows the value in community, which is why the disdain on “Distances We Create” is so palpable. On the track, OPS puts the entitled on blast as they sing, “You say your smarter better stronger, but I didn’t think we had to write how deserving we are.” They urge the antagonist to connect with the people around them and reconsider, singing, “Sit back and look at yourself, from the perspective of someone else, is it worth it to be you?” and "Look into their eyes and tell me what you are doing is right.” On this song the band sounds like the twins of UK punk group Muncie Girls, but in their harmonies and bare-bones moments, they channel past indie pop groups Tallulah Gosh and Heavenly. Part of the power of those bands and punk in general is that these groups feel like they’re on your level and in your corner. OPS offers the same hope - that if these people can turn their pain into art, then there’s hope for all of us yet.


Listen to OPS on bandcamp.

Mo Wilson is a writer who enjoys collecting posters and still has a CD player. You can find him on twitter @sadgayfriendx.