The Slow Readers Club – 91 Days In Isolation: Album Review

The Slow Readers Club don’t let a global pandemic hold them back. They’ve come up with eight songs recorded over 91 days in lockdown.

Release date: 23rd October 2020

Label: SRC Records

Format: CD / DL / vinyl

Back in March we were celebrating The Joy Of The Return with The Slow Readers Club (review here). The new album had been the climax of an exciting period following on from the release of the live recording of their triumphant show at Manchester Apollo. Yes, we reviewed that too.

We talked of the “sombre premonitions” of the new songs and probably wish we hadn’t. We all know what happened next, but credit to the band for keeping the kettle boiling. For keeping in touch with their devoted fanbase and interacting in various ingenious ways.

Throughout the entirety of the lockdown, The Slow Readers Club constantly found creative ways of staying connected to their devoted, slightly obsessive fanbase. These included exclusive lockdown videos including videos of fan-selected cover songs; ‘watch together’ sessions of previous shows; fan listening parties of their previous albums and an unforgettably eerie acoustic session surrounded by 21,000 vacant seats in a desolate Manchester Arena for the venue’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

They also performed a ticketed live-stream concert from The Met in Bury playing a tremendous audience free set containing exclusive performances of some of the new songs from the upcoming album. 

It won’t be a great surprise to hear that the eight new songs were written remotely during the UK Covid 19 lockdown. Each band member contributed ideas over the internet as the songs were pieced together at home before being taken (post lockdown) to Edwin Street Recording Studios in Bury.

Could this be the first SRC concept album? There’s a hint just from scanning the song titles. Barricades, Lost Summer, Two Minutes Hate – it says a lot before we drop the needle or the digital equivalent. First listening reveals some familiar sounds but we also find the Readers moving into some new sonic areas. It feels like they’ve spotted a chance to do something a little more experimental; see where the muse takes them.

Here’s a rundown of the eight songs that product of 91 days in lockdown.

Some nice ringing guitars add a chime to the Barricades choruses and provide a contrast to the instrumental trio’s more familiar jerky, angular rhythms. “Another sorry scene” indeed amongst the electric fizz and fire. It gives way to the sobriety of a vaguely Eastern opening on Everything I Own which holds up into an atmospheric wash before resurfacing

Yet Again has a heavy groove, what some would call a stadium sound, and an insistent pattern to the lyric and with the marching stomp on The Greatest Escape. Lost Summer is the first of the departures. Possibly more spacious than anything they’ve done and not until they reach the “life is a wicked game” line does it approach any intensity. Cool, Summery and languid, one that ventures outside the box

The stark rhythm on Wanted Much More explodes into life with a huge chorus (can’t quite make out the words) and the feeling that this could be one of the more accessible Readers albums starts to emerge. Not that they don’t write songs with hooks but this is a serious attention grabber. I love this track. With some hefty guitars, it could easily transform to a symphonic rock/metal track a la Nightwish.

The drum/guitar sound and pattern at the start of Two Minutes Hate seems so familiar before an emphatic rant releases the inner rage. Constant little hooks and the demand of “I start to crave chaos” a reminder that we’re living in extraordinary times. To add to the chaos, the album comes a close with a piano ballad. Like I Wanted To is the sort of diversion that’s been on the cards – we’ve witnessed Aaron at the keyboard, but they’ve taken the confident step to depart from the comfort zone. It just remains for a mighty crescendo and drone of strings to bring 91 Days In Isolation to an end.

As a tip, go straight back to the beginning of Barricades that shows how far the Readers have come not only on this album but also on their journey. An ‘of the times’ collection of vital three and a half minute contemporary pop songs. We look forward to feeling the joy of the return.

Listen to Yet Again here:

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