Sunday, October 04, 2009

"There are so many questions that still burn".. Slow Club's "Yeah So"

I didn't write about the gorgeous skiffle-pop of Slow Club's debut album "Yeah So" when it came out in July. But the band are in the middle of a UK tour with a new single ('Trophy Room') due out on 12 October plus Mr S of Salford wanted to see more 'album coverage' here, so it feels appropriate to give it some attention belatedly.
I was introduced to the world of Sheffield's Slow Club, the duo of Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson, by last year's December single 'Christmas TV' (provided to me by Last.Fm for which thanks is due). I'd missed the earlier singles in 2007 and 2008 but luckily some of those tracks are included - plus live tracks - on the 2 x CD version of "Yeah So". However it's the album itself that is the main draw and a downright charmer to boot.

In my crude categorization of the twelve songs on "Yeah So", there are three types. All of them deal with falling in and falling out of love but differ, by degrees, stylistically. The first is the uptempo, swinging rockabilly types like "It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful" and "Giving Up On Love". Irresistable, damn-fine, party tunes.

Then there are the folky duets, stripped-back ballads sung by the two in harmony like 'Apples and Pairs' and 'When I Go'. Delicate, frail numbers that suggest the pitfalls and precariousness of love. And finally the third type: the solo-sung songs that do the same trick but to the nth degree - Charles singing 'There Is No Good Way To Say I Am Leaving You' and Rebecca singing 'Sorry About The Doom'. Total and utter heart-break.

He strums, she drums throughout, with occasional piano or full-band treatment depending on the song. This shifting between song styles can feel a bit of an uneven carousel ride at times, swapping maudlin introspection for full-throated folk-abilly at the twirl of a drumstick but it is a minor quibble. Whatever the mood or style, "Yeah So" is chock full of charm. And I can't quite put my finger on where that charm lies - in the infectious pop tunes, the interplay between the two singers, the beauty of the individual voices or the touching subject matter? Clearly it's the combination of all the above.

But the one song that nails this for me and leaves with weak in the knees is the album opener: 'When I Go'. Forgoing the shiny production elsewhere on show, this has a demo-like intimacy with Charles and Rebecca singing over acoustic guitar. It starts with a comic image of needy friends so desperate for partnership they would consider each other "if we're both not married by 24, pass me those knee-pads". It then shows each decade of their life together with the refrain "will you hold my hand when I go?". Death-bed pledges of affection always bring a lump to my throat, but it is simplicity itself and damn-near-pop-perfection: it even has whistling in it that doesn't sound embarrassing or awkward.

"Yeah So" is a great record and comes with a hearty recommendation from me. Whatever place it gets - or not - in my end of year album chart though, 'When I Go' will definitely remain one of my songs of the year. Sentimental old fool that I am. And it could just work too, for anyone about to embark on a life-journey together... you know who I mean.

The Slow Club tour continues this week (Manchester on Tuesday) with 'Trophy Room' released a week tomorrow (in advance you watch the video or pre-order the single)

Slow Club
Yeah So [BUY]

No comments: