The Slackers - Close My Eyes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Slackers

Close My Eyes (2003)


The Slackers' 2001 full length Wasted Days, as well as it's follow-up project Slackers & Friends were both very dense and busy sounding records. The former added layers of instrumentation and experiments with country and lounge music, the latter featured various remixes and several guest vocalists. While Wasted Days contained many brilliant compositions by Ruggiero and Hillyard, there's little doubt in my mind that it's nearly 70 minute running time could have been trimmed.

It's a pleasant surprise therefore that I find Close My Eyes is one of the most solid and concise albums of The Slackers' career. This is a tight set of 12 songs, free of any filler, which clocks in 20 minutes shorter than both The Question and Wasted Days. The band's more serious this time around as well. Lyrically there's an awareness and concern about the state of the world. Ruggiero's writing more personal and introspective words, reacting to tragedies both personal and social. While he's always been a devotee of classic pop-songwriting, his superb arrangements have more weight with this lyrical focus. Marc Lyn's only solo vocal outing is on the racially charged "Real War," showing more depth and feeling than his material from the last full length ever did.

I find myself comparing Close My Eyes to the band's debut. Much like Better Late Than Never it leads off with an instrumental jam (the Glen Pine written "Shankbon") and features a more straight ahead ska / rocksteady sound. It may just be the stripped down instrumentation, but the production on Close My Eyes feels sparser then the band's latest releases as well. That's not a complaint either; the production suits the lyrical themes on the album.

Ruggiero proves once again that he is one of the best pop songwriters in ska music (and I'd argue other genres as well). Close My Eyes is a more subdued album then the busy Wasted Days, but it has more to say. Since the flow and length of the album are much tighter, I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes one of my favourite new releases by the end of the year.