Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Pastels - Slow Summits

With three decades of composing and recording in their rear view mirror, you can count on The Pastels to have a firm vision for their music.  But what makes their new LP, Slow Summits, special is the exceptional execution of that vision.  The Pastels of 2013 exude confidence and depth.  Their touch with melody, which always has been a strong point, is even more assured.  What may be most remarkable, however, is the degree to which the Glasgow group has mastered the ability to take a loose, even gentle song and infuse it with just the right level of detail;  the melodies envelope the listener, the embellishments delight, but nothing seems hurried or overstuffed.

With core members Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell trading lead vocal duties, variations in tempo and a few lovely instrumental songs, the nine-track Slow Summits has a satisfying level of variety, but fans may feel that it is almost too short (that's what happens when you take so long, Stephen and Katrina).  While "Secret Music", "Summer Rain" and (one my my favorites) "Come to the Dance" lead the charge of the gentle songs, and show a true mastery of the subtle expression of emotions, the album also contains one of the best pop songs of the year -- the first single, "Check My Heart".

For Slow Summits the band was Stephen, Katrina, Tom Crossley, John Hogarty, Gerald Love (Teenage Fanclub), Alison Mitchell (Katrina's sister).  Additional contributions were made by Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Annabel Wright (long a member of the band), Stefan Schneider and Ronald Lippok and Craig Armstrong.

Here is the album closer, "Come to the Dance", which invariably draws a "replay" reflex from me --

Slow Summits is out now on Domino Records.  If you love pop music, this is an album you should check out.

Domino Records

No comments: