If 2020’s Race Car Blues wasn’t enough, Melbourne rock outfit Slowly Slowly have gifted us with its second chapter. As the potential B-sides grew into a life of their own, singer Ben Stewart reflects, “in retrospect, some of those pieces that didn’t quite feel like they fit on the original album have served as great stepping stones to where Slowly is headed” and the place it has headed is full of grit, heart, and raucous energy.
Just as in Chapter 1 where ‘Creature of Habit’ ripped open the package, ‘Comets and Zombies’ does the same, wasting no time to get down in the thick of it. As heavy verses transition into smoother toned choruses, whenever you feel settled into a groove the track changes up its pace over and over again, lyrically stunning “you kinda look like a comet burning out to impress all the stars you hate” and melodically gripping.
You can’t pigeonhole the Slowly Slowly sound, one minute ‘The Best Bits’ is violent, loud, and mosh provoking then you have ‘Learning Curve’ with its gut-wrenching poetic lyricism and painful explosions of emotion. There’s sweet slow burner ‘Low’ finding its well-deserved place on this album after remaining a floating single for the past year, yet nothing will prepare your hearts for ‘House On Fire’.
No doubt a stand-out track, it shovels in everything great about Slowly Slowly’s musicality and authenticity, it’s soft, sweet, and intimate, and all as powerful as the loud and rough tracks we heard prior. “I hope there’s a place / like all the books say / where we’re gonna sit like tonight and we’ll stay that way” is a tear-jerker, as the soft vocalisations of “oohs” behind Stewart’s haunting voice is spine-tingling.
You’ve got bouncy dance tracks in ‘The Internet’ and ‘The Level’ with funky baselines and addictive choruses, and who could ignore the melodically turbulent ‘First Love’ featuring Sydney’s own Yours Truly. Mikaila Delgado’s powerful voice on top of the sweet acoustic guitar and string overlay is reminiscent of an early 00’s pop-punk ballad (Remembering Sunday eat your heart out).
‘Set The Table (The One That Got Away)’ is this album’s variant of ‘The Butcher’s Window’ (of 2018’s St Leonard’s) stylistically, with a simple guitar and repeating melody. A song so simple and soft yet hides dark and brutal lyrics “we lost a baby lost our love and I just wasn’t good enough” coated in a simple up and down melody it’s not for the faint-hearted. This track is gut-wrenching, add in strings and you’ve got the perfect recipe for agony, sent to finish in a trumpeting sorrow song.
As ‘Small Talk’ mixes in some electronic synths and drum pads which gives a little dash of Stewart’s solo moniker, Congrats’ stylings to the mix which gives off a bedroom pop undertone that explodes into a glimmering finale that ebbs and flows between a stripped back piano only to rise and fade again. Washing into album ender ‘Anywhere’ the album is taken on its final ride, soaring, cinematic, and light with a chorus that pairs with a warm summer sunset, running off into the horizon with an aching sense of escapism.
Chapter two feels like a fresh twist on their previous St Leonards intimacy and structure but with a larger dose of pop and fun that feels free-flowing and unrestricted. Never allowing themselves to be defined easily, Slowly Slowly push their boundaries and you can feel the freedom and confidence seep through into their music.