For Fans Of
Slowly Slowly is the musical think-tank of Ben Stewart and Alex Quale, and the duo’s insanely sentimental new album is called ‘Chamomile’. If you’re unfamiliar with these guys, I’d say that the closest comparison in sound would be fellow Melbourne locals, Ceres and the quieter, more “restrained” songs from Violent Soho’s discography, like say ‘ So Sentimental‘ or ‘Saramona Said‘.
Much like Pity Sex’s latest and the new Beach Slang release (which are both baller, go suss them out once you’ve picked this album up), there’s a real sense of, well, “realness” to this record. The lack of sonic polish – intended or not – creates an air of authenticity and this is something that translates across genres. Just look at the new Silent Planet record for an example of how that’s done in metal music. Anyway, like the album’s instrumentation and production, the stripped back lyrics here aren’t concerned with overusing a host of metaphors or hiding away in play-on-word phrases, for better or for worse. No, this kind of lyrical simplicity and honesty is what genuinely makes Slowly Slowly such a damn fine act, whether it’s coupled with either acoustic or distorted guitars, loud vocals, driving drums and all.
This album, much like my local pizza shop (the Pizza & Wine Club. Seriously, it’s fucking dope) is very consistent and has many a gem to be found within it’s run time. One such song is ‘Death Proof’, which is just such a monolithic song when it gets going, and is a great example of just how lively and wonderfully dynamic the band’s music can be. Moreover, the surreal, dream-like haze that ‘Black Confetti’ develops into is just so captivating with the chorus’s ethereal vocal and guitar melodies, and the direct, contrasting verses in between. It even gives way to an almost shoegaze-like sound at times, and I can absolutely fuck with that!
The album’s anti-love lead single is ‘PMTWGR’, which stands for ‘Pussy Makes The World Go Round’ (easily one of dumbest song titles of the year) and is “the song” for the band. It’s their own anthem, it’s their own ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ if you will. Just looking at the streaming data for this song pretty much confirms as much. They were very wise to release this song pre-album release, and the inclusion of Ceres frontman Tom Lanyon on it earns them some big brownie points in my books.
But where the album falters slightly is in the acoustic songs. Now, they aren’t bad songs; I happen to enjoy them actually, and they allow the honesty of Stewart’s lyrics to shine through. But I find that they aren’t what the band is best at. See, the album starts with ‘Elbows’, a minute and a half acoustic tune that’s a pretty low key intro to ‘Chamomile’ and look, it’s fine, but the following song ‘Hey You’ is what will really prick up your ears. It’s when all the instruments and the full band swings as one that Slowly Slowly is truly at the top of their game. The same thing happens midway through with the title track and ‘Good Friends’, the former being a delicate acoustic track, and the latter a melodically spine-tingling indie rock affair. In fact, that final section of ‘Good Friends’ is just such musical bliss with it’s filtered vocals and gorgeous guitar melodies that I can hardly recall the preluding acoustic track.
Of course, this can work both ways as without the acoustic songs here, I may have found this record to be a lot duller and a lot more lackluster. So take my prior ramblings on their acoustic songs with a grain of salt.
However, the one exception to the acoustic tracks is the real standout, ‘New York, Paris’, which rounds out the record superbly. What makes this song so bloody good is how it transitions from a simple acoustic jam (so you know that the song and I were not off to the best start) into this surging, heartwarming, rock ballad. The joining of the band’s simple acoustic sound with their excellent 90’s rock tendencies is brilliantly done here, and it’s the best example of the heights that Slowly Slowly can achieve.
Slowly Slowly’s ‘Chamomile’ is a real record, one that embraces both human honesty and human mistakes with eight passionate songs. This album pleases and satisfies your very soul like a nice, warm cup of genuine chamomile tea. And yes, all of that was just a really wankish way of saying this album is fucking good, and you should go get it in your ears.
2. Hey You
3. Death Proof
5. Good Friends
7. Black Confetti
8. New York, Paris