REVIEW: Sloping, Completed Songs

“True hacks take it easy on themselves, and I won’t do it”

Completed Songs, the debut project from Sloping, serves as both an intimate and critical process of self reflection. Throughout we are brought into memories layered in melancholy, regret, and confusion. Amplified by instrumentation reminiscent of slowcore and emo acts of the early 2000s, the emotions displayed on Completed Songs never feel like an answer. These feelings serve as the object of the memory to confront. Sloping isn’t trying to ruminate on these feelings, rather, it mirrors why these memories feel this way. 

JJ Posway, the singer-songwriter behind Sloping, has been active in the Atlanta/Athens music scene for some time now. He started with Scooterbabe in 2012, where many of the early days of the band can be noted for packing house shows throughout Athens, bringing in students drawn to the pop punk sounds that were rooted in their youth. Gradually, the emo sounds sprinkled with twee undertones morphed into something much slower and intimate, highlighted on their 2016 record The Sorrow You\’ve Been Toting Around. As a solo project, Sloping allows Posway to be much more personal, and in an effort to amplify that intimacy, steps into a sound that is stripped bare., He turnsto acoustic guitar, atmospheric sampling, and the presence of silence to create a space that makes the listener focus on the lyrics. In order to properly enter Posway’s palace of memories, he puts us in an environment that’s so stripped down that we must reflect with him.

photo credit: Morgan Middleton

Completed Songs opens with “Brute Force,” establishing the standard and tone for Sloping’s approach to memory and painful moments. Posway describes fragments of a setting, noting the smell of piss and orange slices, a corner store. We’re given very minimal, passing thoughts on an unidentified interaction. This same template is used throughout the most intimate moments of Completed Songs. It is the vagueness of Completed Songs that makes these memories feel much more familiar and real. Memory isn’t linear, it’s more of a fragmented picture. Posway captures this, opting to give fleeting details of the pieces of a setting or the hint of a familiar smell to bring you into his memories; rather than getting into specifics. Completed Songs is a natural thought loop rather than a wordy explanation of a past event.

In “Raft,” the lead single for Completed Songs, the repeating hook “True hacks take it easy on themselves / And I won’t do it” serves as the most obvious statement of intention for Posway. We all cycle through our own mistakes. Why replay the same bad memory over and over in your head? Are we trying to find answers? What Posway makes clear he is not trying to affirm himself, or to validate his emotional tie to specific moments in his life. There isn’t some push to explain the situation away as a mistake and forget about it. Instead, he addresses painful moments to seek clarity. Posway is attempting genuine, critical self- reflection. “Raft” isn’t trying to shape a narrative to absolve past mistakes – it’s about taking onus for actions, and gaining a better understanding of the perspective of the unnamed members of the past. 

photo credit: Morgan Middleton

Closing with “Bench Seat,” the last lines of Completed Songs float out over a lonely, strumming acoustic guitar: “I’m a stain dried in your clothes / A guard rail viewed up close…Every streak of paint shows…Far too close to leave clean.” We’re left with the culmination of Posway’s reflecting, and the acceptance of this reality. He knows he cannot change what has happened or what\’s been done. There’s an understanding that those actions and emotionally charged moments become a part of your own being in the eyes of the people from your past. Completed Songs may invoke feelings of loneliness and regret, but optimistically encourages you to accept your past as part of yourself, while not trying to erase it, can give you some semblance of peace. 

Completed Songs is out now on streaming platforms via sound as language

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