Review: Slow Club – Complete Surrender

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Sheffield duo Slow Club, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson, return with their third full-length album Complete Surrender.

Slow Club charmed audiences back in 2009 with debut album Yeah So, presenting a youthful and honest collection of songs centring around love, heartbreak and youth. Their follow-up album Paradise continued their well-established themes but in a more mature manner. Rather than abandon key stylistic elements of their Yeah So era, Taylor and Watson’s new sound was infused with a more sophisticated style. This is the point whereby they began to realise the depth of their voices which could create the most frantic yet powerful harmonies at one point, and the most heart-wrenching at others.

Album opener, ‘Tears of Joy’, acts as a good introduction to Slow Club’s new and improved sound. With harmonies now perfected, accompanied by a number of instruments that are supportive rather than overpowering, ‘Tears of Joy’ bears a comforting resemblance to Slow Club’s previous work.

Watson takes the lead in ‘Everything Is New’ with his relaxed voice allowing listeners to really appreciate the lyrics. As the song leads up to the climactic middle section with the duo’s layered multiple vocals, supported by a more rock-esque band accompaniment, listeners soon become aware of the direction and distinctive sound of this album.

The foot-stomping ‘Suffering You, Suffering Me‘ is theatrical but not too brash, with big orchestral instrumentals and Taylor’s strong and sultry vocals finally being sculpted to effect. The track is lyrically and thematically similar to the content of previous albums, but the strong, independent sounds prevalent throughout give the song a maturity; it’s as though Taylor accepts the inevitable heartbreak we must all face, but remains confident and upbeat, as presented by her vocals.

It’s a blessing to see this continued during the title track and first single to be lifted from the album, ‘Complete Surrender’. With its bold accentuated backdrop of heavy drums leading into the late string ensemble, ‘Complete Surrender’ is the epitome of Slow Club’s latest album. Taylor’s vocals take the lead here, but as always, do not overpower Watson’s mellow voice. Their harmonies work perfectly and remain strong throughout despite the very urgent sounding backdrop.

With the multiple layers, complex musical backdrops and powerful vocals evident throughout the majority of the album, ‘Number One’ is very fitting as Complete Surrender‘s halfway point. Telling the tale of love and loss, this strip-backed piano-led song takes Slow Club back to their roots, sounding similar to the heart-breakingly honest ‘There Is No Good Way To Say I’m Leaving You’.

The pair seem to have mastered the break-up song as the album reaches ‘Dependable People and Things That I’m Sure Of’. Taylor opts for a softer, melancholic vocal range as she portrays the struggles of a break-up and the need to ‘keep moving’. Taylor’s lyrics here are just as hard-hitting as the unmistakeable honesty of previous songs such as ‘Sorry About The Doom’ and ‘Hackney Marsh’.

Where they have progressed from youthful pop-like sounds in Yeah So to a more structured sense of maturity in Paradise, latest album Complete Surrender sees Taylor and Watson perfect themselves as a sophisticated power duo of modern ’60s-esque soul-pop.

9/10

Complete Surrender, officially released on Monday 14th July, is available to pre-order on iTunes now.

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English and Spanish undergrad, recent year abroader and aspiring vegan, blogging as hennacomoeltatuaje

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