Sling Shot to Heaven starts off adorably woozy, with Richard Edwards clearing his throat into the mic to begin “Hello, San Francisco,” a lilting ballad punctuated by gentle tambourine and sweet falsetto vocals. “Let’s throw our bones away,” he sings over and over, making that sound like the most romantic of propositions. However, many of the following songs like they took that advice to heart, falling into a sleepy funk of acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, and morosely sung witticisms. “I wanna live in L.A.,” Edwards sings on “Los Angeles,” detailing how he’d “roll through the valley in a bucket of sound” and spend time “high as a cabbage head,” not sounding like he wants to do any of these things for an instant. “Flying Saucer Blues” has nothing bluesy about it, and the only thing keeping it from total open mic night generic are the plaintive harmonizations of Edwards and a female vocalist.
There are moments of wakefulness too, the crackling “Long Legged Blonde Memphis” being the most noticeable. Gulping female vocals, punchy piano, and crunching guitar propel the track along. (Having gone rock&roll for that song, the band seems to have picked up a rock&roll trope they could have left behind: that of turning women’s body parts into song titles.) The rest of the album hovers somewhat tentatively, driving along in a convertible under weak sunlight. A pleasant surprise was the closer, “Wedding Song.” It begins with a watery flute, sounding like a distant radio broadcast, then takes us back to the same acoustic guitar, but something’s different, and closer, and better, like the band stepped down off their stage to sing in the middle of the club, unplugged. “Tell your friends that we’ll even hang stars from the ceiling, turn the moon into powder,” they sing. “I’ll give you everything you wanted.” Something about it sounds more believable than most of the preceding hour.