I can’t fucking believe it. A brand spanking new cassette single, complete with translucent crimson casing and home made cover art and inserts. This thing is a piece of art in and of itself. A glorious tribute to the DIY, self-releasing ethic of musical subculture in times gone by. It’s a solid, beautiful, REAL thing, like a tiny flickering gas lamp in the information smog of the digital age. In some ways, this description also fits The Sly Persuaders as a musical outfit. There’s a lot of retro sounds in here, but rather than trading on wistful nostalgia, pandering to the aesthetics and tropes of specific genre, it’s a collage of all the best parts of cult rock throughout the ages. There’s no slow build up – A side Hey Faustus! instantly smashes in with the kind of strident, galloping beat that inspired the glam rock generation to do The Watusi in 6″ silver glitter platforms. Then comes the overdriven bass and we’re somewhere else again – the rhythm section taking on an almost Motörhead-like intensity.The duel guitar parts weave between solid, heavy riffing and frantic, whammy-bar and space-echo fuelled lead work. This kind of combined guitar work is cropping up a lot at the moment, but The Sly Persuaders make it seem a tad more effortless than contemporaries like Loom or Puffer. Sadly, unlike these other rising stars, the SPs don’t appear to have any kind of momentum behind them. There’s a feeling of beach front lethargy to the band’s public persona, almost like they’re deliberately avoiding making any attempt at the limelight, just in case it disrupts their cool.
The production of the single is flawless. The drums are snappy and sharp throughout, the vocals are prominent in the mix, with a hint of garage rock distortion about them. But not so much that you can’t easily imagine singer Chris Brown’s sneering face making lewd remarks into your girlfriends ear in some dimly lit speak easy bar. (Note: I’ve met Chris many times and he’s never so much as hinted at a lewd remark to me or my girlfriend, but his Sly Persuaders alter ego sure sounds like it’s got it in him.) B Side Rachel goes to town on the frantic surf rock guitars and throws in liberal dashes of horror movie synthesisers for good measure. The lyrics have an almost humorous irreverence to their gothic subject matter and I can’t help feeling that when they first heard Bela Lugosi’s Dead they got the joke straight away.
You can hear the kind of records they probably have in their collections, but it feels like they haven’t simply copied them – they’ve understood them. In many ways, The Sly Persuaders are the band that most fully encompass the musical territory that Heavy Leather Sex specialises in and this single is, in my books, a 100% essential purchase for 2014. I just hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a flash in the pan. Either way, don’t miss your chance to own it.