Oh what a different world it would have been if girl-boy duo Slow Club had been born in London instead of Yorkshire. Their joyful nu-folk, a Marling/Flynn/Emmy the Great conglomerate injected with a ruckus of drums and a gleeful sense of humour, might slip by the wayside if they were just Another London Band. Gone would be the irreverent charm, the wide-eyed excitement of playing a gig at the ICA and quite possibly, the ability to self-deprecate in such a charming fashion.
The accusations thrown at their genre contemporaries are answered neatly by the band, who jump into the audience from the back of the room to play ‘Wild Blue Milk’ from their upcoming debut album. Instead of drifting into a tuneful lament or intellectualising banal teenage trips to Fopp, Slow Club are a funny, winning combination of playful poetry and punchy, happy pop-folk. Bursts of happy drums, effortless harmonies and a constant, exhilarating changing of pace is punctuated by chats with the audience – stories of the drive down from Sheffield, of filling the venue or the fifty pound car parking fee, often in the middle of a heartfelt song and always told with cheek and a smile.
It’s true that the themes of the songs are not necessarily the most original or experimental, most of them being sun-dappled quips on how love feels in your early twenties. After all, to most listeners the words ‘If you’re not married when you’re twenty two, is it ok if I asked you?’ may sound more than just a little green, and touchingly anxious to boot. But these themes are universal and told with heart: ‘There Is No Easy Way to Say I’m Leaving You’ grazes the stomach of anyone with a modicum of imagination. It is sweet poetry that never gets bogged down in its own self absorption, thanks to the hoedown of Rebecca’s jumping drums and fast strum of Charles’ guitar, plus a resistance to too much overt navel gazing in the lyrics. ”The bones of my shins are crumbling’, sings Rebecca sadly as she closes a solo number before collapsing into giggles; ‘I’ve been doing too much krunking’.
Tongues might shift slightly in cheeks at some of the more twee moments, but these are few in number. At the end we feel a little bamboozled: cynicism has given over to a sugary end, as Slow Club return to the middle of the room to sing ‘Christmas TV’ and a genuinely enthusiastic, spontaneous singalong at the end. Are we really joining in to the words ‘just come on home’ with a roomful of strangers? To refuse to be won over would take a tougher reviewer than this.
Image from JON STANLEY AUSTIN’s photostream. Slow Club’s debut ‘Yeah So’ is released on July 6. They’re playing at Glastonbury this weekend and come back to London in September.