Album reviews were once an essential part of the music acquisition process.
Without them, you would have had to gamble your cash on shiny new albums purely on the strength of the lead singles. All too often record companies would sneak out substandard albums full of filler to cash in on a successful single. Reviewers had the chance to listen to the album before you bought it, and whilst music is always subjective, a good reviewer could give you some idea of whether it’s an album you should be spending your money on or not.
Fast forward to the present, and the purpose of reviewing albums is not so clear cut. When you can just stream an album without forking out cash up-front for it, do you really need to know what an opinionated reviewer has to say about it? Certainly, the lack of comments on most blog posts and social media reaction primarily from people connected with the blog or the band would suggest that the public by-and-large aren’t interested. Indeed I read a review of the Lost Horizons (Simon Raymonde’s project) album that claimed the Cocteau Twins were a duo (perhaps they thought they were really twins! 🙂 ) so I suspect a lot of writers can’t be bothered writing them either!
But to say there’s no point of reviews at all would be a bit of an over simplification. A well written review can help you gather your own thoughts about an album, finding out why others like or dislike an album can be interesting, and I think it’s good to think and talk about music as well as listen to it. Instead of aiding buying decisions up front, they can help you reflect on an album you already have.
However, I don’t consider myself a music writer, at least not in the traditional sense. I can’t write purple prose (the strings section felt like a waterfall in a scrap yard) or technical reviews (The bassist tends to favour C# but he should really be in D Major) even comparisons often bypass me, it took about 30 years for me to realise that The Sweet’s blockbuster was a rip off of Bowie’s Jean Genie, and even then only when someone pointed it out to me.
I’m only here to take photos and share my enthusiasm for the music that I love. In the blogging age, anybody can write about music and anyone does. But if you’re anything like me, I work from home so tend to have Spotify on most of the day, and sometimes I run out of ideas of what to put on, seeing a review posted on facebook will often make me have a listen to it, once someone gives you the tip you can decide for yourself whether or not you like it.
For these reasons, I tend to avoid reviewing albums. Reviewing gigs I can at least ramble on about the atmosphere at the gig, how it went down with the audience, the hilarious tale of my bus trip home 🙂 But with albums all you can really do is write about the music, and I struggle to articulate why I like (or indeed dislike) certain music, and in a way I feel that if I did fully understand why I like it, perhaps it would remove some of the magic?
So why did I volunteer to review this one? Well The Slow Readers Club have been on my radar for a couple of years, I still haven’t got around to catching them live yet, but they seem to be quietly selling out gigs and are poised, ready to break through. The opportunity to listen to their new album before general release was too much of a temptation to pass up!
The Slow Readers Club are far from new – they formed in 2008 out of the remnants of Omerta, and have been honing their craft, and building a following. They sold out the 2,000 capacity Ritz in Manchester through word out mouth, without a label. With ModernSky now behind them – the Chinese label who are shaking up the industry and are a partner in Liverpool Sound City, the sky really is the limit for this Mancunian band.
So what did I make of the album?
It’s everything I hoped and expected of it – epic up-tempo tunes with distinctive dramatic vocals, with elements of The Editors, Kasabian, The Killers as well as some of the slightly darker edged pop bands of the 80s – Teardrop Explodes, Cure, Joy Division and even Bronski Beat spring to mind.
Easy to listen to, but in no way lightweight, it’s great from the first listen and gets even better with subsequent listens.
Any track on the album would stand up as a single in it’s own right – it’s really that good.
It’s albums like this that make me wish I was a better writer so that I could convey just how great an album it is! Whilst you can’t listen to the album in full just yet, you can check out the 3 lead singles youtube videos on this page and see what you think yourself.
The album will be available from 4th May 2018, and can be preordered here on lovely vinyl, signed CD or even cassette tape if you’re old school or into vintage!
You can catch them live at Liverpool Sound City on the Saturday night. I suspect it will be the highlight of the weekend.