Aurora, by Slow Crush
Suggested by Luke Kay
Reviewed by Stuart Emerson
Words, as a wise man once wrote, mean things. Some words are easier to parse than others though. Take the sentence “Belgium-based shoegaze band Slow Crush play at both ends of the dynamic spectrum”, as their biography on allmusic.com begins. No doubt the biographer knew what he meant, but aside from ‘Belgium-based’ and ‘band’, both of which I think we can probably reach an easy consensus on, the rest of the words look like they were fired from some sort of word-confetti gun. To me, anyway.
I know folk like to subdivide their genres. Rock. Alt Rock. Indie. Indie Rock. Alt indie Rock. Wikipedia tells me that ‘shoegaze‘ is “a subgenre of indie and alternative rock that emerged in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s”, apparently because its protagonists spent most of their time looking at their guitar pedals. I do like my guitar pedals, and the fuzzy crunchy joy they bring, so this should be exactly my bag.
The first track, Glow, throws me a bit. It has the foggy low-in-the-mix vocals I expected, but is quite up-tempo. It’s fine, but it doesn’t really feel like it fits – the vocals and fuzzy reverbs have got their coat-tails caught in a more Brit-poppy bus, and then, inexplicably, about half-way through, after a frenzied drum fill, it reverts to a more sedate pace and feels more – more correct, before the frenzy of the drummer takes over as the guitarist wheels their arm to thrash out the final chords. Track two plays the same trick. It starts at one tempo, and then, halfway through the beat completely changes, and we could be in a completely different song.
What I thought I wanted from shoegaze was a deep, reverberating blanket of sound to bathe in, but this water goes from treacherous rapids to eddying pools and back again with little warning, and is a little discomforting as a result.
I have long been a fan of Curve, and a lot of Aurora is in that wheelhouse; dreamy and lush. But there’s a repeated and mostly unwarranted attempt to strike up more of a rock feel, and for me it is jarring rather than innovative.
And yet for all of that, my standout track is when they do manage to pull of a more conventional indie rock track. Beached has the washy guitars and dreamy vocals, but sounds more like Leicester’s Prolapse than My Bloody Valentine. Perhaps this is their place – overlaying a veneer of shoegaze on a rock foundation, rather than just jamming the two together and hoping for the best.
Words mean things. 6/10 on one person’s scale is praiseworthy, on another it’s mean and middling. I wouldn’t seek out more Slow Crush, but if I encountered it, I wouldn’t be unhappy. Like a decent support band, I’ll happy to be surprised if and when we meet, rather than actively seeking a further engagement.
[Craig’s Review – I think Slow Crush are rather aptly named, because this album contains noises akin to being caught beneath the heaving roll of a massive marshmallow. The sound was treated to the hilt in order to make a wide wall of reverberating mush, each instrument melding into the next as if demarcation and identity was something to concern lesser musicians. The singer was given precious little focus or attention, allowing their dreamy whine to be consumed by the thick foggy soup surrounding it, delivering every word through slightly parted lips with an apologetic shrug. I like bands who snarl, while Slow Crush barely manage anything more than a wan and indistinct blink in my scrutinous headlights. 3/10, Aurora Bore-me-senseless.]