Powerful, string backed, slow crescendo ballads of The National with deep and nearing on breaking baritone soft spoken vocals reminiscent of Lambchop. Big piano chords and warm trundling bass and drums, huge, yet subtle swelling orchestral pieces back the drama and intimacy of these songs for a little self reflection.
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With their light guitar brushes, their fanfare brass and their advertisement-ready feelings, the Slow Show sound like they’re dragging the National’s sound home from a second-hand furniture store. They also called themselves the Slow Show, which, I mean, um, yeah? The indie rock subterfuge continues with the vocals of Rob Goodwin, who sounds like Sam Herring if he’d been banned from DJing ‘80s pop at the beach.
I love the National, I love Future Islands, I’m fired from Norman Records for holding these beliefs -- and so the Slow Show’s record is quite enjoyable. It’s earnest, soft and gorgeously produced, even if the warming chords and delicate arrangements are sometimes met with ideas too saccharine, such as the spectral backing vocals on “Strangers Now”, which are by and large a massive miscalculation. “Hurts” is a wonderful half-punked pop tune backed with anthemic, world-beating brass band goings-on, its anxious guitars and mix of languishing and staccato strings climaxing around the same anticipatory dread the National go in for -- but Goodwin’s vocal croaks and cracks a little too much for the race to really be run, distracting from the euphoric tune with an earthier feel.
Basically this record sounds like it’d be really good at Latitude or Green Man, cannon fodder this year and big deal the next: it’s a few well placed piano chords away from critical appraisal, and will be cherished for its rustic approach to picking, composing and falling apart. Even so, it feels like there’s something symphonic trying to break out of the Slow Show, with the proggy backing vocals of “Dry My Bones” meeting a pretty standard Radio 6 ballad, Embrace Meets Daughter style. It’s like a convergence of the post-Britpop of then and the Big Music slowcore of the now. Do I like it? You might.
There are hints, bare hints, of something a little different.
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