Your friend comes up to you with a smile on their face. The two of you recently shared some of your favorite music with each other, and you recommended Spiderland by Slint. After a few minutes of catching up, they say to you, “I really liked Spiderland, what else should I listen to?”
This question, asked so many people after their first listen of Spiderland, has sent many fans of music into a state of panic. Several bands may come to mind immediately: Minutemen, Codeine, Drive Like Jehu, etc. But the truth of the matter is all of these answers come as close as they fall short. So many bands sound like Slint, and yet no bands sound like Slint. Their masterpiece, Spiderland, is a modern classic considered by many to be one of the most important and influential albums of all time.
When it comes to pinning down a genre to categorize Slint and Spiderland, fans and critics alike are split among several contenders. The album’s complex and shifting time signatures have led many to label Slint as one of math-rock’s first pioneers. Others claim Slint rigid grooves and spoken word / loud punk vocals makes them a post-hardcore band. While others say that the way that Spiderland builds tension and suspense along with it’s repetitive guitar parts makes Slint a post-rock band. There’s a grain of truth to all these choices, but to pigeonhole Slint into any one of these genres would be selling them short. What’s undeniable is that they create a truly one of a blend of genres and sounds.
Few albums manage to be as simultaneously simple and complex as Spiderland. On Spiderland, Slint hit a magic spot between the soothing and the discomforting, the esoteric and the familiar. The dissonance on this album creates an unforgettable 39 minutes of rock music. There are so many unforgettable moments to this album. The eerie, understated spoken word style vocal performances of Brian McMahan, the glittery harmonics on the intro track, “Breadcrumb Trail”, the jagged guitar lead on “Washer”, and the oddly mature lyrics of “Don Aman” will all leave an impression on your mind. Every minute of Spiderland is jam packed with wonderful music and you will discover a new favorite moment with every listen.
With just two albums in their discography, it is astounding the extent to which the influence of Slint is felt in the pulse of independent music today. 25 years later, bands ranging from Ought to Low to Mogwai all bear the mark of the unmistakable sound crafted by Slint on Spiderland. The album has influenced so many with its mature and intricate composition and creative audacity. Few albums are as dismal through and through as Spiderland. It is an album that bleeds shades of grey from front to back, and can be a painful listen at times. But, though it may a depressing listen, it’s a rewarding one.
Spiderland is one of the great indie rock albums that has garnered enough critical acclaim and esteem to be considered among the great albums of the 20th century. It’s an album that has been on countless “Top 100 Albums of all Time” lists, often making it to the top 25. Spiderland is a one of a kind, beautifully crafted, groundbreaking album. Amazingly, it manages to be so while maintaining an undeniably indie rock sound. Spiderland is an album that feels equally at home next to Blonde on Blonde, as it does next to your local DIY band’s newest EP. It is intoxicating, melancholic, understated, and complex. Happy 25th birthday, Spiderland!