There is a reason why the supergroup Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks’ new album is called Enter The Slasher House. The band—Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, ex-Dirty Projectors member Angel Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman—provide deliberate horror movie imagery from the get-go. And the music’s fairly spooky too. But beyond that, the album is structured in a way that sounds like the perfect soundtrack for walking into a movie-style slasher house or scary carnival backlot. Each song is a new room full of unique horrors and stirring noises. The band is taking the listener for a ride, and they are in complete control.
The album creeps and fizzles in with A Sender. It’s the sonic doorway to the slasher house, pulling the listener in without yet overwhelming them. It swells up and backs down over and over, with a steady drum beat to give the song shape and direction. The next three songs all lull the listener further into metaphorical murder rooms, each in very different ways. Duplex Trip is a little more obvious, with lyrics like, “This track is an easy moment.” So far, the band has not yet wrested complete control with their sound. Blind Babe is a different story. An unexpectedly fun, odd and danceable track, it quickly lurches you forward. Though the vocals are moving a mile a minute in all different directions, Avey Tare keeps it together and uses a lot of aggressive repetition. It’s definitely one of the best tracks on the album, as it perfectly integrates the creepy theme into something that, at its core, is essentially an accessible alt-rock jam. Little Fang is a playful, psychedelic track that really begins the shift into creepy horror-show territory.
Enter the next two tunes that feel like the sonic equivalent of being trapped in a circus room, seeing flashing lights and spooky creatures circling all around you and all the while, kind of enjoying it. Catchy (Was Contagious) bubbles and builds, using just the right amount of distorted vocals, and it avoids being nearly bogged down in experimental tricks. Modern Days E follows the same cycle, using distortion to layer the song, but it does not depend on it for the song to work.
The Outlaw and Strange Colores are two other songs that important to note because of their unnerving beginnings that explode in distinct ways. While The Outlaw remains quiet, spooky and brooding, Stange Colores is abrasive and has the epic power of an arena-rock ballad.
The hard thing about using horror as a theme for a band, is that it can come off flimsy or clichéd. When Slasher Flicks started this project, they were already on the right track by employing some seriously talented and well-known musicians who know how to play off-the-haunted-house-wall music. This debut also does the horror theme right because they allow it to be playful, fun and accessible—more B-flick kitsch than Saw-style gore. Listening does not make you hide under your blankets, afraid for your life, but it does provide spooky shocks. Some are more abrasive, and others are like that video for Little Fang: equal parts creepy and cute. Listening to Enter The Slasher House is like going to one of those haunted cornfield mazes around Halloween time. As you sneak through the maze, things are a little scary, and you’re not always sure what will happen next. But it’s exciting, fun, and once you realize you obviously will make it out alive, you want to keep going back in.