Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s: Slingshot to Heaven – Since 2005, folk rock collective Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s have been supplying deep, thoughtful and probably slightly weird listeners with a seductive brand of hauntingly melancholic tracks. From 2008’s ‘A Sea Chanty of Sorts’ to the ever-popular ‘Broadripple is Burning’, which has seen multiple incarnations since its release, Margot surely seem to have a knack for bringing a dose of reality nonchalantly and artistically.
I was a teenager fresh out of high school when Margot first made a blip on my radar. I was discovering and refining my musical tastes beyond which band members were the cutest or which song would make me look cool if I played it loudly enough in the parking lot. It was The Dust of Retreat that captured my attention, and I can recall spending hours with that record on repeat. Something about Margot was soothing but also kind of unnerving, and also endlessly entertaining. The band can shift from making animal noises to singing a siren’s song about heartache and deception.
They made a stance in 2008, releasing ‘Animal!’ and ‘Not Animal!’ at the same time as a sort of four-letter response to the unwanted direction of their producers. Margot’s take on things was ultimately better and more organic. Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s have always been inventive and somewhat altruistic, creating a sound that encapsulates feeling. It’s always raw, but Margot never hesitate to prove that they can show a lighter side. Listen through the band’s discography, and I promise you’ll find yourself in a ping-pong match of different emotions.
I don’t want to say that Margot’s 2014 release Slingshot to Heaven is more of the same. That would suggest that they’re getting boring, which could really never be the case. Instead, I’ll say that Margot are giving listeners exactly what they desire out of a good MNSS record.
The album’s first track, ‘Hello, San Fransisco’, has the same somber-ish storytelling finesse with the same earnest vocals. But there’s something a bit more, something a bit fuller in this track that makes it a satisfying listen. I think it has to do with the swelling string section padding the line “let’s throw our bones away” that does it for me.
This is Margot, version 2.0. In ‘Long Legged Blonde Memphis’ is the same awesome lyricism with upbeat piano riffs and heavy drum beats. Margot have taken cues from the likes of Portugal. The Man, electrifying a usually mellow sound and infusing it with alt-rock goodness. It’s definitely a change in the world of Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, but it’s a good one.
By the time ‘Wedding Song’ begins, the listener has gone through a multitude of sounds and tempos and lyrics and new ideas from Margot. But when the soft acoustic guitar begins to strum, we’re transported to a place of comfort. Margot pull from their roots, what they’ve always done, to orchestrate a really beautiful track. It’s a little tragic amd a lot earnest, and it brings me back to that first time I listened to Margot as a teenager. The music has always felt like an open-ended conversation. It’s familiar.
The great thing about Margot is that they grow with you. Just like growing up, you maintain some of who you used to be, keep the best parts (in this case, poetic lyrics, understated vocals and a creative sense of musicality) and add to the mix until you end up with something great. I want to purge myself of all mediocre music forever and instead curl up with Margot, where everything is interesting and right, and I can always count on the music to keep me interested…9.0/10