Monday 20 February 2023

The Slow Readers Club - Knowledge Freedom Power

Our championing of The Slow Readers Club predates this blog and there are good reasons for this; the main one being that they are exceptional songwriters and performers. 2023 sees The Slow Readers Club embarking on a big UK and European tour in support of their incredible new album Knowledge Freedom Power.

The sixth long player already from The Slow Readers Club and it only seems like yesterday that we were enjoying the self-titled debut – Sirens, Block Out The Sun, Feet On Fire and Lost Boys being amongst the many highlights, with those songs still being live favourites now. That was over a decade ago and we've watched with pride as the band - Aaron, Kurtis, James and David – have gone from pubs to clubs and worked their way through the circuit in their home town and beyond, cumulating in their legendary Apollo headline show and a top 10 album only a matter of weeks before Covid brought everything to a halt. Their determination  however soon saw the band find new ways of working and from Covid, album number five, 91 Days In Isolation, was born. 91 Days was a stunning record featuring some of their best work (see, for example Lost Summer, Barricades, Two Minutes and Yet Again) and left us to ask the inevitable “how do you follow that one then?” question. In Knowledge Freedom Power, the band have arguably topped that last one. 

The pulsating synths and drums of Modernise get the album underway. It's as strong an opening to a Readers album as there has ever been with Aaron's call to arms to modernise and “up your game”; lyrically, Aaron wears his heart on his sleeve; “Oh Lord, I'm nervous, this discourse here it starts to freak me out” and “pressure's on to be strong”. In true Slow Readers Club style however, the angst of the lyrics is counterbalanced by the joy of the music. The same is true of Forget About Me; “know we only get one life, choose another day to cry” advocates Aaron.

The tempo slows down ever so slightly with Afterlife. With just Aaron's vocals and Kurtis's subtle guitars opening, Afterlife builds and builds. “There’s still a lot of melodrama in there and it’s still dystopian in places but there’s more positive shades in this record” said Aaron recently and this neatly sums up Afterlife; a tremendously powerful, atmospheric and uplifting song that The Slow Readers Club excel at.  

As Sacred Song kicks in, I'm left feeling a sense that this can't possibly be a new song as it instantly feels warm, recognisable, and beautiful. And, I think that is the power of The Slow Readers Club; you can instantly connect with them. Sacred Song shows the band at their best; Jim Ryan's bass and Aaron's synths, coupled with David's funky drumming and Kurtis conjuring up more of his magic. Sacred Song is everything we want to hear and more. Easily one of the Readers' top three tunes. 

Lay Your Troubles On Me has the unenviable task of following Sacred Song. Another perfectly crafted, atmospheric tune. The middle eight takes the song off in a completely different direction before How Could You Know?,  led by Aaron's piano introduction and a soaring vocal. The pace of the song soon builds and it rattles along. Lead single and title track Knowledge Freedom Power already feels like an old favourite, of which Aaron said “Growing up as a council estate kid in Manchester I was very conscious of having a limited horizon and I guess I had a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. It’s that background that inspired both our band name and the album’s title track ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’. It is an exercise in positive sloganeering, a mantra for education as a means of a way out from social and psychological confinement.” The synth-heavy track features perhaps the biggest chorus and biggest vocal on the album.

Kurtis's Les Paul and Vox dominates the introduction of What Might Have Been before one of Jim's signature basslines and David's grooves kicking in. Aaron's falsetto vocals showcase his incredible range and What Might Have Been is a massive anthem. Seconds Out keeps the tempo going and it's like a distant cousin to album opener Modernise. Working with producer Joe Cross for the first time, he has brought Aaron's synths to the fore, not just on Seconds Out, but across the album. The pace is slowed right down for album closer No You Never and there are parallels with Cavalcade closer Know The Day Will Come. No You Never is perhaps the most reflective song on the album. 

The Slow Readers Club have always set themselves high standards. With each and every album, they have produced well crafted, thoughtful and uplifting songs. Knowledge Freedom Power continues in that tradition and should help propel them to further deserved success. With three top 40 albums already under their belts, including the top ten success of The Joy of the Return, we hope to see Knowledge Freedom Power go the same way.

The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

They tour in the Spring calling at : Barrow In Furness Library (March 2), Leeds University Stylus (4), Glasgow SWG3 (6), Aberdeen Lemon Tree (7), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (9), Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (10), Bristol Thekla (11), Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (13), London Lafayette (14), Manchester Albert Hall (17), Berlin Lido (23), Hamburg Übel & Gefährlich (24), Antwerp Trix Club (25), Paris Supersonic (30), Rotterdam Rotown (31), Amsterdam Paradiso Tolhuistuin (April 1), Belfast Limelight 2 (14), Dublin Academy (15) and Porto M.Ou.Co (29).


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