It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been five years since Slow Club released their debut album Yeah, So. Since then, duo Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson have steadily moved away from the sometimes twee, nu-folk tones of ‘Beginners’ and ‘Giving Up On Love’ to become a more mature and accomplished band. Their second album Paradise was a serious step into a slightly soul-tinged, bluesy rock, and also gave Taylor more opportunity to show off her impressive vocal talents. Now their third album Complete Surrender presents us with a band at the height of their powers, confident and anguished in equal measure.
Taylor is known for belting out massive, pop-diva notes at live gigs but her recording voice has always seemed comparatively muted. Complete Surrender goes a long way to rectifying this, as Taylor’s voice is easily the most distinguishable and alluring aspect of the LP. She holds the Motown-influenced record together with raw emotion and a wholeheartedly sincere attitude. On ‘Things That I’m Sure Of’ and ‘Dependable People,’ Taylor mourns over lost love in a manner that sounds like a blissful blend of Dusty Springfield and Sinead O’Connor.
The band’s newer, more bombastic approach to retro soul also helps to make Complete Surrender feel like the album they were born to make. Whereas Yeah So was sometimes twee and rosy, and Paradise occasionally flirted with soul like a coy mistress, this LP shows the band immersed fully in what should have been their natural home all along: slightly scuzzy soul that’s gritty, unapologetic and heartfelt. On this record, they get the balance almost exactly right and back it all up with tight melodies and beautiful but often somber lyrics.
This is best heard on what is probably the best song the band has ever written: ‘Everything is New.’ This devastatingly brilliant slice of emotionally-charged, soul-infused rock completely epitomizes everything great the band has molded themselves into.
But to pin the success of Complete Surrender on one track – albeit one hell of a track – sells the strength of the overall album extremely short. In actuality, the album is almost the perfect LP; there isn’t a single track that sounds like filler and none of the band’s other material on this record sounds forced, rushed or devoid of emotion or thought. Complete Surrender is an essential album that almost perfectly blends raw emotional power with catchy retro-soul together in a manner that’s sure to form a major part of Slow Club’s legacy.
Words: Eugenie Johnson
Complete Surrender is out now on Caroline International