It’s with their own unique, if somewhat dark, pen that The Slow Readers Club has signed their signature boldly to this album. There are twelve tracks in all, crafted to bring together catchy hooks with achingly beautiful poetry to tell a subtle story. Strong vocals hover over and through filtered beats, sometimes built for dancing, sometimes for listening, experiencing the sound as The Slow Readers Club have created it.
The tracks like the brooding, “Days Like This Will Break Your Heart,” or the ballad-leaning “Don’t Mind,” showcase introspective lyrics set against hypnotic keys and shimmering echoes that pull you into TSRC somewhat sad world. The eerie feeling that some of these tracks have isn’t without reason or design. "I Saw a Ghost" is one of the bolder moments of poetry on the album with lyrics like, "I am empty, I am hollow, I am solemn verse" dark by intention. As explained by singer / lyricist Aaron Starkie, "Ghost" is a song about depression and "...about appearing to have a normal happy life but carrying something with you that can descend at any moment and make everything appear bleak." Much of this album carries a similar heavy feeling, but somehow, you never feel caught in the ennui that exploration of this type can sometimes fall victim to.
Initially, the album seems to be somewhat front-loaded. Meaning the dark tones seem more predominate toward the end of the album, the more upbeat tracks at the start. Example? Down at track 10 you find "Here in the Hollow." A dark piece that layers the chanting lyrics “I won’t forget, I won’t forget, your voice still echoes in my head...” against the fast paced music to create a manic feel. Add in bleak, dark lyrics and that feeling becomes a full picture: “Here in the hollow you’ll lose your mind. Hopeless. Loveless. Petrified.” Taken together, it's that willingness to go so close to the bone that makes the song almost uncomfortable. And hats off to TSRC for creating such a tangible moment for their listeners and for crafting an album to follow the lines of a journey so subtly that you’ve listened over and over before you even realize just what journey you’ve been on.
Cavalcade strikes a nearly perfect balance of mood and moment. The album starts with some brilliantly upbeat, danceable tracks like “Forever in Your Debt,” “Start Again,” and ends with “Know the Day Will Come.” These tracks help to lend balance the darkness. The sense of knowing desperation, but seeing the glimmer of promise through the fog.
The lyrics are deeply introspective, can be simplistic and are occasionally clichéd; “Let me count the ways I love you” on opener Start Again. At other points they sound almost Euro-pop, most evident through the rhyming couplets on Days Like These Will Break Your Heart. While on the face of it this may not sound so great, the lyrical simplicity carefully cultivates fantastic imagery that makes their music as accessible as it is brilliant. The vocal performance from Aaron varies little, but this is no bad thing as his dulcet tones are captivating. When it does however, such as on Plant the Seed we hear some higher ranges that come as a pleasant surprise and contrast to the earlier tracks. Keeping this hidden for so long keeps the album fresh, reigniting your interest and drawing you in deeper, enveloping you in their dark little musical universe.
From Plant the Seed on, the tracks are like a runaway train, flowing from strength to strength and becoming a darkly enjoyable roller-coaster of emotion so thrilling, I simply couldn’t turn it off. Broad strokes, I suspect Cavalcade will be very popular with fans of alternative music old and new. Having already been championed by XFm they’re setting off on the right foot and deservedly so. Very few acts successfully make melancholic yet uplifting music, but Slow Readers Club have succeeded with this effort. All things considered, it looks very much like 2015 will be their year.