Despite being the new kid in school, electro-pop group 2 Slices has made a splash since forming earlier this year. Their contagious take on pop music has left live crowds dancing, while their debut single "Slow Poison" got the attention of online audiences with a taste test of their sound — and its perfectly choreographed music video, filmed in one take, didn't hurt their appeal either. All the hype has led to the release of their debut album Best Believe, and it will not disappoint fans of the first single.
Last time the City Paper checked in on 2 Slices singer Danny Martin, he was mulling over the sound of "Slow Poison." His thought process at the time of writing the synth-soaked dance track was to build a Top 40s pop tune with "all the cliches." Upon listening to the rest of Best Believe, it's apparent that Martin, bandmate Brandon Fudge (a.k.a. DJ Lazer Cat), and producer Ryan "Wolfgang" Zimmerman of indie-rock band Brave Baby left a lot of the pop radio tropes on the cutting room floor. "It kind of has this anti-pop vibe," says Martin. "It's got the hooks, melodies, and catchy lyrics, but it's got some really dark elements."
Best Believe has enough of a non-conformist streak below its surface level pop sensibilities to appeal to wide categories of listeners. Opening track "Better Days" toys with the verse/chorus structure. "There's random stops in there and it has a random bridge in the middle of the song," says Martin. The tune's melody is a little forlorn and a little bubblegum, with the main hook's down-pitched vocals resembling an electro demon.
The album's second single "Underground" tinkers with convention in its instrumentation, just as much as its structure. The whole song plays out in a quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic, but maintains a constant four on the floor pulse from beginning to end. Its outro gets busy with an arpeggiator, a surfy guitar, and an atmospheric bass synthesizer. The end is a spacey outerlude that shows that Martin hasn't lost a step from his time in psychedelic surf-rock band Octopus Jones.
There are even dashes of hip-hop littered throughout, most noticeably on "4 Ur Luv" and "Big Girl." Both songs use samples and drum pad-crafted beats that could make anyone's freestyle mixtape.
The sound of the album isn't really a slap to the Botox-injected face of pop music but doesn't attempt to emulate the glitz and shimmer of the average Grammy Award nominee. "It's not trying to be polished pop music," says Martin. Best Believe thematically reflects on that ethos as well, beginning on a relatively positive note before closing with "Bad Luck 4 Life." Martin laughs, "I didn't really intend for this, but it does kind of go to a downward spiral."
This little bit of electronic melancholy is icing on the sadness cake. The song's moody bassline, ghostly guitar, and hip-hop drum clap are the backdrop for Martin to deliver lyrics like, "It never crossed my mind, to think what's mine is yours/ We always cross the line/ 'cause fit as a fiddle, always stuck in the middle."
"Ryan said it literally haunted him," says Martin. "He was seeing devils and stuff as we were recording it. He was really freaked out by that one."
The writing process for Best Believe follows a tradition more fitting for indie rock and hip-hop beat-making. "Most of it I just wrote in the isolation of the bedroom setting," says Martin. "It was easier to make decisions because I didn't have to bounce ideas off of anybody." Most of the music was written when 2 Slices was still a Martin solo project. And, while he's not a technical band member, Zimmerman's presence is felt on the album, often with the indie flare he's known for.
In live performances, 2 Slices brings out music experimentalist Nic Jenkins on drums and Secret Guest mastermind Brett Nash on bass. As the band has progressed, Fudge has become more and more integral to the creation process. Live, he DJs, samples, and provides a chance to improvise that's not seen on the recordings. Future material will feature Fudge more heavily in the studio and songwriting method.
With Best Believe on the horizon, Martin and company aren't taking a second to stop and breathe. A music video for "Underground," more singles from the album, and new songs are all brewing behind the scenes and coming soon.