A GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE-AGED MAN
I was a relatively late comer to The Slow Readers Club but within weeks of hearing their 3rd album ‘Build A Tower’ I had purchased the earlier ones, and they were the soundtrack to my washing up (the highest accolade) so much so that my wife commented on how long I was taking to wash up after tea and just checking that I hadn’t forgotten we had a dish-washing machine.
The Slow Readers Club come from Manchester (which is always a promising sign) and released their first album in 2011, and have released six to date with the most recent being at the end of last month, which whilst slow by the standards of the 70’s and 80’s is positively prolific by today’s standards.
In preparing this ICA I have struggled to describe their music so started to scour the internet for help and found these two which do the job far better than I could ‘Dark Euphoric pop band’ and ‘Anthemic electro-rock’ – I don’t know if electro-rock is a genuine genre, but it does describe the sound perfectly.
Lunatic: Build A Tower
The first song on an album has to be both a great song and a clear indicator of the overall tone and feel of an album and this track, the opener on their 3rd album Build A Tower does the job expertly.
You Opened Up My Heart: Build A Tower
I don’t think I could be described as romantic and tend to view love songs are ‘soppy’, but this struck a chord with me, although over 30 years ago these lines brought back the vivid memories of my wedding proposal: Now I’m down on bended knee, Now I’m waiting for the heart attack, In my mind I’m seventeen.
The title track from the band’s second album, I’m always slightly wary of albums which are named after an individual song as they often can indicate that the album only has one strong track and the rest is filler, however, on this occasion Cavalcade wasn’t released as a single and was tucked away as track 7. Having said that, the song is strong enough to be a single and the album lead track. (I think I’m going round in circles here)
Forever In Your Debt: Cavalcade
Another track from Cavalcade, starting with a plaintive vocal which gradually becomes more forceful as the music becomes more powerful, the two building together before slowing down to a gentle conclusion. As I have put together this ICA I have come to realize that ‘The Readers’ are exquisite in structuring their songs, almost always following an intro, verse, chorus, end which, whilst traditional, never becomes too familiar as the tunes are always distinct.
Like I Wanted To: 91 Days In Isolation
To end side 1 a song from 91 days in Isolation released in Sept 2020- roughly 6 months into the pandemic- I’m guessing the album title refers to this- I like structure in life and part of that structure is that the last track on each side should be a slower more pensive song.
On The TV: Build A Tower
I have two daughters, one almost has similar taste to me and has been to see ‘The Readers’ with me a few times and one who is in her mid-twenties and is a typical radio one/MTV listener who can tell me who is number one in the charts (do they still exist?) and has no interest in her dad’s music or anything involving guitars. Anyway, it must have been a couple of months after the album was released and I would always be playing the CD in my car. I was giving her a lift to the railway station, we were chatting away and she started to sing along to the chorus, I joined in and then she stopped and a look of absolute horror appeared on her face as she realised she had been singing along to one of dad’s bands. If that doesn’t tell you just how catchy this track is, nothing will.
One More Minute: The Slow Readers Club
Taken from their debut album, already the band’s style is established, which I would describe as upbeat cheerful tuneful largely guitar led music with deeper more subdued lyrics on top. (I’m never going to make it as a music journalist with these descriptive skills am I?!!)
Fool For Your Philosophy: Cavalcade
Thumping drums drive this one forward, not sure what it is about- just a great song with an ending which always catches me by surprise, as I want and expect it to continue for at least a couple more minutes.
All I Hear: Joy Of the Return
Opens with a nagging guitar refrain and the title being repeated at the end of each line of the verse before the chorus begins, I might be reading too much into the lyrics, but it makes me think of a manager/record label constantly on at a band/musician to change style. ‘No you can’t resist the change, There’s a choice already made, Been trying to catch a wave for so long, And the money that you make, It is making you a slave ‘
Everything I Own: 91 Days In Isolation
And to finish off, a deeper, darker song which still maintains the bounce of the earlier tracks.
The Slow Readers Club released a new album on the 24th February, I learnt of this back in November and thought it would be good to complete this ICA ahead of this – no problem I thought only 5 albums and 53 songs.
By the beginning of February I’d whittled it down to 17 songs and was on track, and then I ground to a halt unable to drop the final 7. My pre-order of the new album arrived on the 24th, but I bravely made the decision not to listen to it until I completed the ICA- which I managed in 48 hours. I’m glad I did, as the new album is great and would have made the selection so much harder.