A bareback thrill ride on an unpredictable mollusc.
Where once Ian Black was marking time as the touring bassist for Mercury-nominated artful indies Field Music, he’s now onto his second, significantly more assured full-length release as the driving force of Slug. It’s hardly surprising that Higgledy Piggledy finds Black forging an identity all his own in comparison to 2015’s feet-finding debut Ripe when you consider Slug’s original studio incarnation featured his former band’s siblings Peter and David Brewis. Encouraged by Ripe’s plaudits, Black has composed, produced and played every instrument here. Casting aside generic constraints, he’s embraced fresh possibilities and delivered an album of abundant charm. So who’s in here? There are wafts of pastoral XTC, suggestions of Neutral Milk Hotel, a crumb or two of Cake, a steely core of political dissatisfaction softened by humanising elements of wry humour, engaging vocal fragility and melancholic psych-Prince sensuality. It’s a delicious hotchpotch with a wide vocabulary. Garnished with strings here, hung off a driving riff there, Higgledy Piggledy does what it likes, when it likes, and as a consequence, it delivers a thrill ride of unexpected surprises.