The Slow Show are an Indie pop band, formed in Manchester in 2010 and have been tagged as offering “minimalist but epic numbers steeped in atmospheric sonic landscapes”. They comprise of Rob Goodwin (vocals and guitar), Frederik ‘t Kindt (keyboards) , Joel Byrne-McCullough (lead guitar) and Chris Hough (drums) . They release their fourth studio album, their first for three years, entitled ‘Still Life` this month.
The album opens with `Mountbatten` with a rolling piano leading us in along with what sounds like a cello as the deep vocal narrates in an almost spoken word format a quite pensive and introspective reminiscence. A song that deals with grief and healing. A number I returned to on numerous occasions. The band asked their followers to share stories, poems, photos, and videos inspired by the isolation of the recent pandemic. An overwhelming response contributed to the final version of `Anybody Else Inside`. The number begins quite ethereally but blossoms as it evolves and grows in volume and pace with a rhythmic drumbeat and shimmering guitar chords with vocals soaring atop.
`Slippin’` is a deeply reflective understanding that the time has arrived where you have to move on in life not only from where you currently are but from where you presently live. It has a wistful feel about it and the addition of a trumpet in the latter stages made it all the more poignant. I felt there was an almost cinematic texture about `Rare Bird` which enjoys a delightful piano base which accompanies a vocal where the pain is almost tangible in it`s breathy delivery. The number picks up tempo in the concluding section as the drum joins in before returning to it`s earlier dreamy atmosphere.
I read somewhere that `Woven Blue` deals with the aftermath of uncoupling, a word that really irks me. It always sounds like throwing a bucket of cold water over two humping dogs. The track is a fairly uplifting and breezy piece about the end of a relationship and moving on from it. The mid paced `Blue Nights` is delightfully hypnotic. It has that sound that really draws you in.
`Breathe` covers the difficult subject matter relating to what the Black Lives Matter movement stands for and delicately references John Boyega’s rallying cry in London’s Hyde Park. It`s an interesting and at times uplifting offering which to me shares a point of view in an intelligent and more subtle manner. We have an ode to love, loyalty and never giving up on the people you love with `Blinking` according to the band. It`s an almost larger than life composition with a quite anthemic feel that underpins this promise or affirmation of loyalty.
`Hey Lover` is a wonderfully mesmeric submission that drew me in and sent me off into a trace like contemplation on i`m not really sure what, such was it`s power. The group have acknowledged that
`Who Knows` is a song about celebrating change. It has that sentiment that life is a journey to be lived and not a problem to be solved so just embrace it and all that transpires. It`s a quite gently captivating and bewitching listen.
The album concludes with `Weightless` which was inspired and written around a poem by the band`s singer Robert Goodwin called ‘Transit’. It`s mostly spoken word detailing a time of transition, acceptance, and resolve. At a little under seven minutes in length, it never feels overly long as we are guided on a musical journey that is at times insightful, ethereal, ambient and becomes a little jazz like with some intermittent brass snatches, a marvellous aural soundscape to close out on.
`Still Life` is stunning, full stop. Robert Goodwin has a voice that is at times almost angelic and such an asset in that it`s like a further musical instrument. Along with his gifted fellow bandmates they have produced an album that i`m sure will grace all the top ten lists at the end of this year. The only band i`ve heard with a similar vibe are The Tindersticks who I last saw in 1995 and left a comparable impression on me. This album is a grower but if you are prepared to give it the time it richly deserves it will reward you unconditionally.