Notorious underground duo Slug and Ant are back with their first full length Atmosphere album in three years, The Family Sign. Although many elements of their trademark sound still remain, such as Slug’s slow-paced, introspective bars, and a high quality sound from Ant, the LP is a noticeable change from their prior work.

The Family Sign’s beats are less sample-based, taking on more of a Rock edge thanks to the presence of a live guitarist and pianist, but Slug’s personality on the microphone still blends well with the change in audio landscape. Based around themes of family, dysfunctional relationships, domestic abuse, friendship, and the basic ties that link people together, Slug takes the narrative approach to drawing his audience into his words. The standout “The Last to Say” features the emcee over a delicate acoustic melody wondering how a woman can remain in love with her abuser.

Longtime Atmosphere fans may need a replay or two to fully absorb the sonic turn that their latest disc takes. However, the album still possesses enough of the classic Slug and Ant material that the underground has come to love that it will prove a welcome addition to their catalog. —Amanda Bassa