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The Slow Readers Club - Knowledge Freedom Power (Album Review)

Friday, 03 March 2023 Written by Graeme Marsh

For a band recognised as being from the gloomy Joy Division mould, the Slow Readers Club’s new album ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’ is intentionally more optimistic as things shift over from the dark side to one of more noticeable light.

That it’s even here is to be applauded, with their previous album ‘The Joy of the Return’ unfortunately released on the eve of lockdown in the UK. The band returned to day jobs as they struggled to keep going, but still managed to pop out ‘91 Days in Isolation’, their riposte to the depressive state caused by being shut away in their houses for so long.

Frontman Aaron Starkie explained that he thought that “people would probably want to hear more uplifting things” than what the band normally conjured up and he’s right on the money.

To hear them utilise thick, fuzzy synths more flowingly creates a new sense of euphoria and opening track Modernise benefits greatly, its electric buzzsaw keys leading to  a sublime chorus more in keeping with the likes of Editors.

Forget About Me gets its message over repeatedly during a rather subdued chorus, but the sweet spot here is the perfect but all too brief bridge and dominant, uplifting keys. Aside from the more synth-heavy tracks, there are several that, in Starkie’s own words, could have sat on earlier albums. 

How Could You Know and Seconds Out, inspired by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both feel like the kind of work the band can create without breaking sweat, trademark numbers you’ve come to expect. The excellent single Lay Your Troubles On Me surpasses expectations, though, exploding after drawing you in as Starkie declares “we’ll fight the fear”.

As for that one big hitter that we’ve mentioned before as being missing from their canon, What Might Have Been comes as close as anything to nailing down a go-to radio-friendly monster. Its truly epic chorus is spine-tingling as we hear “I need your love” over and over. Perhaps if the track had continued past the last vocals into a crescendo of sound it might have been unstoppable, but then we would be close to moving into anthemic Coldplay territory. As it is, though, it deserves a large audience.

As soon as the needle hits the record, ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’ impresses. With enough to please old and new fans alike, it may have more life in it than earlier albums. In truth, however, the Slow Readers Club continue to do little wrong for not enough reward. Until more people take notice of this great band, all we can do is keep beating that drum and hope that they can give up those day jobs as soon as possible.

The Slow Readers Club Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat March 04 2023 - LEEDS University Stylus
Mon March 06 2023 - GLASGOW SWG3
Tue March 07 2023 - ABERDEEN Lemon Tree
Thu March 09 2023 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Fri March 10 2023 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2 Birmingham
Sat March 11 2023 - BRISTOL Thekla
Mon March 13 2023 - PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
Tue March 14 2023 - LONDON Lafayette
Fri March 17 2023 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Fri April 14 2023 - BELFAST Limelight 2
Sat April 15 2023 - DUBLIN Academy
Sun July 02 2023 - HOLMFIRTH Picturedrome

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