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Slow Club – [Album]

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Saturday, 03 September 2011

How does a fantastic but small band try to get big in a hurry and fill its new-found stature? That's precisely the question Slow Club tries to answer on Paradise, their sophomore full-length. When Yeah So, Slow Club's debut LP, came out two years ago (last year in the US), it's likely that no one was more shocked than the band itself as a series of licensing deals got them a foothold in several foreign markets (in Canada, “When I Go” appeared in a Ritz Crackers ad campaign, “Thinking, Drinking, Sinking, Feeling” got used by Lay's Potato Chips and “Let's Fall Back In Love” turned up in Vodafone Australia's Make The Most Of Now campaign – and that was just to start) and thereby gave them enough recognition to tour and turn a profit but, with all eyes on now, the question of how to follow that success looms. Trying to act like success didn't happen and just turn over Yeah So 2 would be embarrassing and simply trying to factor a “competently professional” angle into the band's music would be insulting, so what could they hope to do?

As far as it might be from what any listener expects, Paradise turns out to be the most plausible solution to the band's “growing up” problem, because it just plows forward without looking back.

Listeners who were introduced to Slow Club with Yeah So and songs like “When I Go,” “Come On Youth,” “Giving Up On Love” and “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream” and were hooked on the playful, jovial nature of them all will be gob-smacked initially as “Two Cousins” methodically ushers Paradise in; the sound is lush and large and far more emotionally tempered/subdued than anything on the band's debut, and it may throw listeners initially. Here, singers Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor once again join each other in synchronous, Vaselines-esque melodies, but they come off as sounding much more mature because of the greater number of instruments behind them and the larger production and arrangement that's required to present it. No longer sounding childlike, Slow Club will just make heads spin as they dig in and pull off this far-larger-than-before sound surprisingly well. The trend continues as “If We're Still Alive” lifts guitar tones from Arcade Fire and places them against a spare beat and a beautiful vocal melody before “Never Look Back” borrows the sighing sweetness which once lived in “Lonesome Town” with Ricky Nelson and applies it to a heart-wrenching tale of a departed child. In each of these cases, the sudden emotional depth expressed is both a surprise and surprisingly welcome; on Paradise, Slow Club doesn't dance around the fact that they're trying to move beyond Yeah So and the don't make any excuses for it – they just do it and remain true to their own spirit above all, forcing listeners to start running in order to catch up.

The fantastic moments of seemingly spontaneous growth keep on coming as “Where I'm Waking” sees Watson and Taylor jettisoning a bit more of the twee spirit that colored Yeah So and produces an anthem of true love and devotion, “Hackney March” edges closer to a mature vocal interplay which is more “Richard and Linda Thompson” than “Vaselines” and “Horses Jumping” remembers simpler pleasures long gone as, backed by a tasteful string section, the singers bid farewell to childhood (but not innocence) and close down the record. In that end, listeners will find themselves delighted to discover that Slow Club did indeed find a way to grow up and still keep their fans onboard: they don't play down to anyone on Paradise, they just kept moving forward with no looking back. That's a braver thing than many bands in the same position have done before.

Artist:

www.myspace.com/slowclub
www.facebook.com/slowclub
www.twitter.com/slowclub

Further Reading:

Slow Club Forgets The Door And Finds A Window – [Feature]
Slow Club – Yeah So[Review]

Album:

Paradise
will be released on September 13, 2011 via Moshi Moshi records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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Slow Club – [Album]

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Monday, 15 February 2010

No matter how young or old you are – whether you're an unrepentant idealist or a dyed in the wool cynic – a good, sweet song about love or the possibilities and excitement of it will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. The hope of love is the great unifier that captures everyone's imagination and when it appears in song and is done well, there's a chance it'll live forever. In listening to Slow Club's debut full-length album, there's no doubt that the subject of love perched upon a pop song is exactly how the band plans on attaining immortality; in each of Yeah So's dozen tracks, singer/guitarist Charles Watson and singer/drummer Rebecca Taylor approach love from as many angles. In this case, the duo treats love like an abstract concept – albeit one they certainly want to believe in – as far as attempting to find the best way to articulate their own feelings on it, which makes for a wild, thrilling ride because nothing about the songs stays in the same thematic place place for long. The band never goes halfway though – the change is a complete one each time the viewpoint shifts which keeps it interesting and exciting.

Yeah So eases carefully into its' look at romance with the simple and folky “When I Go” and, with tender vocal harmonies, wins hearts right from the outset as Watson and Taylor make soft-spoken promises to each other to stick around to the end, come what may and no matter what. It's a beautiful and heartstring-plucking introduction that makes listeners want to believe as much as the singers do. It's the sort of promise that one child makes to another (scan the “If I get to forty and I don't have a spouse/I'll fashion you a letter and bring it to your house” line), but coupled with a healthy dose of insecurity and uncertainty (“If I get to thirty and I don't have a wife/I'll ask you nicely but I won't ask twice”) that both tempers the sentiment and hooks the last listeners that were still hanging back; everyone listening just falls easily into the grooves of that dichotomy.

…And then the band flips the emotional center on its ear on the very next track!

Utilizing a vintage and well-worn indie drive similar to that of The Vaselines, Slow Club rocks out a twee, 'fallen out of love' anthem in the form of “Giving Up On Love” and sets the other extreme that the band will be operating within for Yeah So; the band happily bounces along and lovingly spits in the eye of love and lovers, either loving them or loving to hate them. The song isn't aggressive so much as it is good-naturedly petulant and seems deliberately contrary to its predecessor but is still cutesy enough to keep the hooks from “When I Go” anchored.

What's for Slow Club to do next? Well, they hit every emotional point and weigh-station between “When I Go” and “Giving up On Love” of course, and touch each with the same all-or-nothing attitude.

Slow Club veers and darts happily between the poles they've staked at the beginning of the record, but what's incredible about each is how solid the structures always seem to be. The rockers (including “Because We're Dead,” “Come On Youth” and “Our Most Brilliant Friends,” as well as the countrified “It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful”) strike a dramatic contrast against the ballads (most notably “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream,” “Apples And Pairs” and “There's No Good Way To Say I'm Leaving You”) as playing out every permutation of love lost and won but, undoubtedly, the band's pulling for the winning team as they pour their hearts into the genuine love songs (aka the more ballad-esque ones) and just cut loose and have fun with the 'love-losts,' as if to imply that, yes, love is grand, but there will be no tears if/when it fails. In the end and just to make sure there's no possible doubt, Slow Club strikes the balance one more time between the closer, “Our Most Brilliant Friends,” and the uncharacteristically reserved hidden track, “Boys On Their Birthdays” but, in this case, Taylor can't bring herself to subscribe completely to the design featured on the rest of the record; she's wounded on “Boys On Their Birthdays,” and badly enough that she's willing to let it show. That change leaves a variety of possibilities open for Slow Club on future releases; they can continue to play the “I won't let you see me be scarred by love” card or they can begin exploring the chinks in their own armor. Either way though, it's difficult to find any fault at all in work as solid as this and it'll be interesting to see how the band decides to let its growth play out.

In the case of Yeah So, the true winners will be American audiences. Only now finally set with a domestic release date in the US (the record has been out in the UK and Canada since July 2009), Slow Club has made an earnest attempt to make the best introduction they can by collecting a few of the better cuts from their first two EPs as well as some live tracks and including them on a second-disc mini-album packaged with Yeah So. Canadian fans will particularly clamor for tracks like “Christmas TV” and “Let's Fall Back In Love” for the sheer want and lack of availability, but everyone will be interested to hear how the music of a two-piece band translates in a live setting. One would think that the value of a great album would make it worth checking out and falling in love with on its own, but the second disc in this set seals the deal; the reissue of Yeah So is essential listening for anyone that misses indie rock romance and critics should beware – there's a new twee in town and you'll be captivated by it, guaranteed.

Artist:

www.moshimoshimusic.com/artists/slow-club

www.myspace.com/slowclub

Download:

Slow Club – “Boys On Their Birthdays” – Yeah So


Album:

Yeah So
is out now, as an import release, and will be available domestically on March 30, 2010. Buy or pre-order it here on Amazon .

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