Review of The Slow Life's album Be Not Afraid
The Slow Life are Daniel Baker Guitar/Harmonium/Ghost Guitar/E-Bows/Keys, Darren Bancroft Vocals/Acoustic Guitar, Crawford Blair Bass/Baritone Guitar/Ghost Guitar/FX and Ben Jones Drums/Acoustic Guitar. Instantly before even listening to The Slow Life, I expected them to be a smorgasbord of elements, as one would expect from all those instruments. This group of Londoners have seemly been bitten by the desire to take their time about things. We all need to relax and slow the pace down, keep in our minds eye the things that are most important to us and embrace the calm. Be Not Afraid is certainly in the Slowcore realms with its etherial echos and harmonious crescendos. I Can You Will has that crescendo layering to make Chris Martin proud, with the steady drama of gentle yet progressively intense coatings. Darren Bancrofts vocals aren't as delicate as you would expect for their musical tapestries which is both a blessing and a curse as some of their tracks like Pitchfolk with its glitchy tinkle and jangle accompaniment makes his voice sound too rich in a heavy folk way, resulting in an unusual and somewhat unfortunate sense of drama. Slightly like Keane on Ketamine.
I can't help but feel that parts of their creativity has been done before much more masterfully by the likes of Sigur Ros. They have the same pace, same tone, same melodies and on Outlines they have the cheek to use the same sonar sound from Staralfur. It's just that what they do isn't nearly as emotive and it's hard to think that The Slow life are nothing more than composers of more sensible, emotional generic post-rock. Its' sort of like enjoying Oysters, the first few taste nice and smell fresh, but by the time you get to your sixth there is something a little fishy about them and you cant stomach anymore. The first couple of my metaphoric Oysters are the likes of Sigur Ros, Mum, Board of Canada, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tortoise and Silver Mount Zion. The Slow Life are like the rest which I can't name because I don't remember rubbish copy cat bands. Talk Talk is perhaps the best track on this album but it's littered with the tricks of their forefathers like children with a Be a Magician Set, desperately trying to make the rope trick look as spectacular as cutting a woman in half. I could appreciate them trying to bring perhaps a more lyrically meaningful element that we don't get from the gobbledigook of Sigur Ros but we don't. If anything the ardent delivery of stale sentiment is all Darren successfully musters.
To find summary I think I will reiterate an early point, Be Not Afraid is sensible, but with emphasis on the dull and safe side, The Slow Life's text book format fails them.