Friday, 9 September 2011

Slow Club - Paradise

Moshi Moshi - 12th September ‘11

I’ve always been a fan of Slow Club, their first album was enjoyable, but really, not anything hugely special.  The reason I think, I’ve still loved them, comes from both members being hugely talented and working together so well - which makes any live performances, recorded, session or otherwise, really enjoyable and interesting…but they’d never really managed to translate this onto any studio recordings I’d heard. They’re obviously something unique when things are stripped back, but in a studio environment it’s never come across immediately. All of this meant I was hugely anticipating the release of their second album, particularly after hearing rumours of a change of sound and approach.

‘Paradise’ opens with the first single, ‘Two Cousins’. It’s a catchy, fun song that makes you feel like dancing and in regard to that is a move away from their original sound. It’s certainly angrier - ending with a rush of fuzz that blends nicely into the opening drums of ‘If We’re Still Alive’, on which Rebecca cries out, heartbreakingly, that, “it’s okay, you’re leaving, and we never even talked about, even thought about it, ever before”. As on their first album ‘Yeah So’, the lyrics can seem a little at odds with the music, often darker than the overall sound might suggest, but it works well here. The harmonics of Charles' and Rebecca’s voices have always been a close blend and at times they use this to great effect, but they also take the chance to show off individually. Lyrically, they’ve made great leaps forward too, clever lines like “It’s hard to be in this together, well we both know that it’s hard apart, and it’s a storm I am willing to weather, but it’s a storm that I…I recognize” show a maturity clearly evident throughout this album. Lyrically, things still sometimes seem a little nonsensical, but there’s some really tender moments of introspection too.

Things get rhythmic again on ‘Beginners’, one of the standout best tracks on ‘Paradise’, where the raw talent they give live feels more evident. It’s tight, the vocals are perhaps a little buried, but it still remains energetic and passionate, with some more smart phrases; “you know you haven’t got all the answers, if you did you would be screaming them out”. The final ‘secret’ track, ‘Paradise’, is a reworking of an old song. The added guitar fuzz and clattering drums aren’t actually necessary to make this a great listen but it fits well on the closing track. The idea of wanting to “live in paradise” is quite a thematic one, their lyrics often noting the intricacies and difficulties of relationships, especially those that are breaking down. On first listen ‘Paradise’ is a pretty good album. After a few more listens, it gets addictive and soon you’re listening to songs that are a world away from ‘Yeah So, an album that has led to them (much to their disgust) being labelled as ‘twee’. Sure to remain circling in your head, ‘Paradise’ shows a band that’s grown into their talents,  a superb listen.

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