Having formed in 2011 Manchester’s The Slow Readers Club could be renamed The Slow Burners Club as their candle has burned brightly but stealthily over the years. With a word-of-mouth reputation and always funding themselves the band have enthralled audiences old and now new to concerts at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl and Liverpool Arena touring with James who handpicked the band personally to support them. They’ve acquired new fans at all these gigs and became festival favourites playing at the Isle of Wight, Festival No. 6 and Kendal Calling to name a few. Wherever you see them an army of their devotees’ chant READERS and it’s easy to see why their reputation is so steely.
With their recent sell-out gig last year at Manchester’s Albert Hall (24th November) they have an ever-increasing fanbase. With a capacity of 2000, it was their biggest headline show to date. I was one of the lucky ones to see them there and the atmosphere was electric. Indeed for their new single, You Opened Up My Heart (taken from the new album) the band have released a live video filmed at the Albert Hall gig as a tribute to their fans it seems.
In January this year, they won the Best Breakthrough Act at the City Life Awards which celebrates the best of Manchester’s musical talents. With two albums under their belt, the self-titled debut (2011) and Cavalcade (2015) the band are set to release their third album Build A Tower on Modern Sky on May 4th. It was recorded near their home in Edwin Street Recording Studios in Bury and produced by Phil Bulleyment (Gaz Coombes, Dutch Uncles). With their line-up of Aaron Starkie (vocals), Kurtis Starkie (guitar and backing vocals), Jim Ryan (bass) and David Whitworth (drums) they are on a roll.
Track one Lunatic was their first single from the album. This is accomplished dark, indie electro-pop with powerful lyrics, a wall of electronica and Aaron Starkie’s haunting vocals. “Sure in days of old I’d be chained to the floor”. It sets the scene beautifully for the rest of the album building to an emotional crescendo before ending with self-assurance. Supernatural is contagious with a great beat and soaring vocals and guitar. You Opened Up My Heart has great drums and guitar and a chant-able, anthemic chorus: a modern-day love song. This has been getting lots of radio airplay introducing the band to wider audiences. Never Said I Was The Only One has an ethereal, dreamy quality to it and a staccato guitar effect that works really well and some smooth synth sounds. On The TV has a catchy refrain that you’ll soon be singing along to.
Through The Shadows builds gently with a flicker of synthesiser before beating drum and guitar come in and build up the rhythm. This is a tight song with Aaron’s vocal holding fort and bringing the whole combination together effortlessly. Lives Never Known has more of that staccato guitar effect and a great tempo that changes about a minute in with a wonderful synth-wave that blasts through the song. This has echoes of Depeche Mode in here and is darkly, hypnotically transcendent. Distant Memory is poetic, with it’s picking style guitar. This builds to a wonderful climax before ending the album on this final note.
The band have said themselves of the release: “We’re really proud of the record as we’ve learned a lot since our last, self-released, album”. Build A Tower feels like a natural progression for them with excellent production to boot. An emotionally mature album full of haunting melodies interspersed with thumping electro beats and anthemic chimes that could take them to the next level and receive their badge of honour. They certainly deserve it.