Wednesday, 29 April 2020

MUSIC REVIEW: Slow Readers' Club; The Joy Of The Return.


Slow Readers Club are a band hailing from Manchester and have been around for a little while now, having formed in 2011 – albeit they had a previous incarnation called Omerta which dates back to 2003. Slow Readers Club consists of Aaron Starkie on vocals / keyboard, Kurtis Starkie on vocals / guitar, James Ryan on bass and David Whitworth on drums.

I think it is fair to say that Slow Readers Club have not reached their rather large potential at this time, nor the success that was predicted for them by a number of critics and music journalists. They describe themselves as “indie electro doom pop” which I have to confess is not a phrase I am familiar with and maybe therein lies something of the issue that they are original and sometimes this type of band takes several albums to find their sound and success should naturally comes on the back of that. “The Joy Of The Return” is their fourth album and this may be their time to shine.

The album was written whilst on the road touring, something they seem to have been doing constantly for the last 12 months or more. They had great success on support slots some years ago with James and Catfish And The Bottlemen but I think it was their festival appearances that caught people’s imagination having worked with the likes of Kendall Calling, Tramlines and Head For The Hills.

The opening track on the album is “All I Hear” and it's a tune that immediately catches your attention – it’s perky, bouncy, catchy and I can imagine hearing this played live with a crowd jumping along to it. The track really kicks the album off in the right style – there is something of an Editors sound about this song and it makes me love this opening all the more for it.

Next on the album is “Something Missing” and for me this is probably the weakest track on the album. I’m almost tempted to use the pun and tell you that there is “something missing” from this song but the truth is that this is definitely the case. It comes very close to being a real indie tune but there are sections of the track that just miss the mark – the stop/ start element is perhaps my biggest bugbear with it but also I feel at 2 minutes 58 seconds there is no time to appreciate the delivery of the song. Tracks under 3 minutes are definitely a theme on this album but “Something Missing” is where it is most noticeable.

“Problem Child” is another that has tones of Editors and just like the opening track I find myself dancing along in my chair as I write this review, music playing in the background. The middle section of the song contains a stunning vocal from Starkie, almost a capella, and in my opinion this is without doubt another live anthem in the making – it has 'big venue' written all over it which is definitely somewhere Slow Readers Club belong in the future.

“Jericho” and “Killing Me” have more of a dark feel to them, with both tracks simmering along and threatening to explode into more upbeat numbers but never quite doing so. I like the way these tracks have been interspersed between the other album tracks. I realise that the order of an album these days is not as important as it used to be with most people listening digitally but with “The Joy Of The Return” it feels like they have put a lot of thought into this.

“No Surprise” is for me the stand out track on the album, no doubt. It has a truly outstanding melody and accompanied by Starkie’s stunning vocal this really is impressive. It has a melancholy feel but with an uplifting backdrop which gives the song such depth and soul. I firmly believe that this might just be the track that gives Slow Readers Club their defining moment – no word on whether this will be a single release but I strongly recommend that it is.

“Paris” and “All The Idols” keep the album running with significance – there are no filler tracks on this album. “Every Word” and “Zero Hour” are equally important as the album takes you through a level of consistent quality that is rarely seen.

The final track is “The Wait” and it was most definitely worth the wait. Whilst “No Surprise” was a real peak in the album, “The Wait” provides a momentous climax. There are layers to this track provided by the presence of the synth and drum combination – the song is intoxicating and gives the album a real ending. The pace is changed up significantly and I can easily imagine this ending their live set and providing the same climax as it does to the album.

The album was recorded under the same producer (Phil Bulleyment) as their previous material and this shows. This feels like a journey that Slow Readers Club are on and this album is definitely a significant step forward from “Build A Tower” – despite the 2018 album having some great quality tracks on it. I genuinely believe that this could be the time for the band to break it big – they are the most significant band coming out of Manchester right now and a headlining tour to accompany the album once we are all able to enjoy such events will push them into real mainstream acclaim. It is hard to imagine a future that doesn’t include much more of Slow Readers Club.

Reviewer - John Fish
on - 28/4/20

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