Slow Joy – ‘Mi Amigo Slow Joy’

By Katherine Allvey

Some people get flowers or chocolates as an apology from their partner, but Esteban Flores goes one step further. Better known as Slow Joy, he describes his latest single, ‘Pulling Teeth’ as “basically an apology to my wife for me not being the easiest person to deal with all the time,” and as expressions of gratitude go, there can’t be many better. ‘Mi Amigo Slow Joy’, his latest EP and the followup to last year’s ‘Wild Flowers’, is a little gem of sensitive and soaring post rock that feels like a dream you can only half remember. 

‘Slow Joy’ really is the perfect stage name for Flores; his music burns at a distance, taking its time to reach crescendos, but is ultimately always worth the wait for the payoff. ‘Pulling Teeth’ carries clipped drumbeats and crashing guitar as a peace offering through an indie storm and out the other side into the calm and quiet. Owing a debt to Dave Grohl as much as to Frank Black, it’s a gentle, humble track. Placing it after the plaintive ‘4U’ on the tracklist is a great move – the grungier initial track on the EP seems as if it’s the first stage in righting a wrong committed within a relationship.

‘King Cowboy’ is just as sweet, an indulgent moment of daydream where everything just goes right for once, and open, echoing guitars give way to vocals which rarely rises above a murmur. When Flores finally does free his anguished shout, you can’t help but take a wince of satisfaction, much as the soft yet piercing guitar of ‘Lay me out, I’m out of my mind’ will induce.

This could easily have been the sort of EP that’s relegated to being coffee shop background music were it not for the bite which runs through the distorted and strained emotional insistence between the lines of each song.  As a second release it’s intriguing, an indicator of an upwards trajectory through introspection and out the other side into mainstream, grownup appeal. 

KATE ALLVEY

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