Slowcoaches – Nothing Gives

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2016-12-02

Slowcoaches’ new LP, Nothing Gives, has a lot in common with the early work of fellow Leeds residents, Eagulls. Essentially, Slowcoaches do for Buzzcocks’ musical acolytes what Eagulls did for Killing Joke’s progeny – they tighten-up their sound, crank everything up to 11 and utilize a vocalist whose voice is both rough and soulful. The result is the most refreshing punk record in recent memory.

The album’s opener “Living Out” serves as a showcase of the band’s abilities. The track initially explodes with feedback and slowly plodding drums. The rhythm picks-up tempo quickly and the song suddenly folds into a speedy three-chord punk anthem about the despair of knowing one is “living out the best years of [their] life” in denial. “Living Out” is a perfect track one on a record that keeps on giving, due directly to the talents of its performers.

Throughout Nothing Gives lead singer/bassist Heather Perkins’ basslines bounce along fluidly (”Thinkers”) underneath her oft intentionally detached vocals. Though not technically perfect, Perkins’ voice soars over the band’s cacophony with a ragged passion that adds an extreme credibility to her lyrics about social discomfort and angst. This isn’t to say Perkins’ voice is anything but great – it’s fantastic – but more that Perkins’ has her own very specific style and all the necessary gravitas to move her audience.

Matt Dixon’s guitar sound on the other hand is all over the place in the best way. Dixon’s skills extend well beyond a few knock-off Buzzcocks riffs. Moments of trudging sludge (“WSH”) and soaring solos (“Norm & Values”) punctuate an overall speedy, silvery guitar sound. Dixon’s sound on “Ex Head” resembles Joey Santiago circa Surfer Rosa.  Liam O'Neill’s drum sound is flawless, incredibly fast and his occasional fills are all-too-short percussive whirlwinds – all of which hints at aspirations far beyond punk’s anti-solo ethos. O'Neill’s beats are so foundational and supportive of his bandmates’ work that it’s difficult to write about his contribution to Nothing Gives without also talking about them. With that said this album would fall flat on its face without O'Neill’s technical perfection and, down the road, wherever Slowcoaches sound ultimately ends up it will be directly due to Liam O'Neill’s skills as a drummer.

While not every track on Nothing Gives is a standout – the transition from “WSH” to “Raw Dealings” for example is subtle enough to be confusing – Nothing Gives is surprisingly quite a rewarding listen. So if you’re looking to add something fresh and fun to your collection, be it digital or vinyl, Nothing Gives is absolutely worth your time and money. I get the impression we will be hearing a lot more from Slowcoaches in the years to come.

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