The Slow Readers Club release their fourth album in a flurry of activity. The sombre premonitions on The Joy Of The Return will never be more apt.
Release Date: 20th March 2020
Label: Modern Sky UK
Formats: CD / DL / vinyl / cassette
It’s an album title that’s going to prove prophetic in these troubled times. However, it’s one that sees the quartet flying the Manchester/Northern flag proudly and following 2018’s Build A Tower by marching into whatever counts for the charts these days.
Like its predecessor, the sound is led by Kurtis Starkie’s familiar guitar tones that are starting to rival The Edge with the sonic pallet he coaxes from his guitar. It goes hand in hand with Aaron’s lyrical direction which runs the gauntlet from love and alienation to right-wing populism and what he’s called “algorithm driven propaganda.“
Crafting and honing the material on the road in soundchecks and the backs of vans – some may call it the old style – seems to have generated eleven songs that simmer with a confident swagger. There’s also a flow that both reinforces the familiar and gives a sense of progression and a clue to the direction of their continued growth.
So while we’re on familiar territory, the Readers have no fear of getting back to basics. Less is more, keep ing it simple and we get Something Missing, typical of a more straightforward song whilst Problem Child might recall Fool For Your Philosophy. In the latter, the line “Arrows flying, kids have no respect, chaos reigning” induces the cheeky thought that it might have been inspired by one of Jim Ryan’s lessons? Likewise, the jerky and angular riff that drives Jericho which is as poppy as you’ll hear evokes thoughts of the ever-popular On The TV.
In between the explosive bursts that give Killing Me a short sharp injection of frantic rock, Aaron sings about being a slave to technology. Maybe a thinly disguised and tongue-in-cheek piece of Starkie self-analysis…he’s a self-confessed and highly active social media person.
However, the old cliche of saving the best till last comes into play with the final three tracks shows how the future may be shaping up. The “All hate does harm” chorus on Every Word provides the album’s earworm and provides the slogan of a T-shirt awaiting to be made if ever there was.
Zero Hour provides a rare oasis of lushness yet it’s worth the wait for the full-on anthem declarations of The Wait. Peppered with twittering synth sequences there’s brevity and directness as we get carried on the key line – “Now you’re here, you are all that matters” – and suddenly brought down to earth the locked in Ryan/Whitworth rhythm section that provides a propulsive drive and a kick throughout the record.
A band who’ve responded to a fanbase that’s unconditionally dedicated to the point of obsession who’ve lapped up the offers of a mind-boggling assortment of coloured vinyl, limited cassettes, and T-shirts that revolve around a striking pink. They’ve paid their dues and earned the right to move to larger halls and venues that culminated in their epic gig at Manchester Apollo where this music belongs.
With touring plans on hold for the foreseeable short terms, including several instore performances and a highly anticipated and emotional return to Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe biting the dust, we can reflect on the fact that we may have waited longer for less and the delay is bound to make ‘the wait’ and ‘the joy of the return’ much sweeter.
Touching on of the spirit of Manchester music past, they are the spirit of Manchester music present and future. A band for our times.
Listen to All I Hear here: