Slightly Stoopid – Top Of The World
August 14, 2012
What It Sounds Like: A chilled-out fusion of punk, reggae, hip-hop, and dub. There’s undeniable psych and blues elements here as well. If the idea of island life has an appeal to you, but you need a little more edge to your tunes, you’ve come to the right place.
I liken Slightly Stoopid to Insane Clown Posse. Not in musical style; not even in the slightest, but in the dedication of their fans. Every year, ICP host a festival called Gathering Of The Juggalos in a back-country area of Cave-In-Rock, Ill, which features a collective of artists and random happenings that coexist perfectly with ICP’s backwoods carnival shtick.
If the Slightly Stoopid dudes decided to host a “Gathering Of The Stoopids” or something to that extent somewhere near Ocean Beach, California, you better believe that people would travel from all over to pack that place out, bring their choice hallucinogen, and jive the night away.
Top Of The World is the first we’ve heard from Slightly Stoopid in a while, as their last official full length was way back in 2007, when they gave us the favorable Chronchitis. Their 2012 release comes across bluesier than their past efforts, which certainly hits me in a positive way. John Mayer might as well be playing these riffs on Work, while Miles Doughty kicks off his haze and nonchalantly speaks his peace – All the work that you do / All the money you make / Still it seems like it’s hard to get by / While you pushing and shoving / It’s something for nothing / At least that’s what you willin’ to try.
Dub and reggae are not my go-to styles, but they have certainly grown on me over the years, with SS being my favorite out of the popular likes of G-Love, Pepper, and the (super bland in my book) Dirty Heads. A chief complaint with these styles would be that the tracks run together – that there are only so many ways to differentiate these rhythms. I can’t deny – it’s certainly a true statement. There arn’t a ton of new surprises on the later half of this album that we haven’t already seen on the front end (save for the well-executed and shocking cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire). However, I can’t fault these boys too hard. It’s not that the band is limiting themselves – it’s a style that simply has some limitations on it because it is so definitive. “Limitation” may be a strange word to use with a fusion style, but what else could you even ask them to try? Change this up too much, and it’s going to lose its soul. The thing that I can’t put my finger on is this: even though these guys cut most of their records from the same cloth, they still manage to be consistently interesting throughout their releases. You can listen to all their records, and while a lot of it will sound similar, it won’t simply sound like the same song over and over again – which is the biggest compliment that I can pay these guys. You know what you’re getting with a Slightly Stoopid record, and if it ain’t broke, especially in this case, don’t fix it. Throw in small value-adds here and there, like Chali 2na’s guest verse on Just Thinking. Man, it makes me feel cooler and more chilled out, and I don’t even smoke.
All this to say, I think that Top Of The World may be right on par with Cronchitis, and possibly a step up from their 2005 smash Closer To The Sun. Truth be told, I’m not overly familiar with their material before that. Most of these tracks could fit on any one of those three records – there isn’t much differentiation – but as I said – I’m not looking for much differentiation when I listen to Slightly Stoopid. We know who these guys are, and this record puts it at the forefront just as most of their records do – chill vibes by the ocean, chillin’ the day away. It doesn’t have any instantly recognizable, crowd revving standouts like Bandelero or Baby I Like It, but has a more consistent start-to-finish flow than their past releases, which may give it a slight edge.
I also must give a nod to the cover artwork – it’s fantastic – one of my favorites in recent memory. It’s hard to see all the detail from the image above, but you can find a hi-resolution one at the following link:
If you had to listen to two tracks: Devil’s Door / Way You Move