The Slow Readers Club – ‘The Joy Of The Return’

By Catie Allwright

‘The Joy Of The Return’ is the fourth studio album from Mancunian four-piece The Slow Readers Club, bringing a sound that was developed during back-of-van jams whilst touring extensively throughout 2019. It’s a familiar sound that’s frequently compared to that of Editors, Interpol, and a catalogue of successful indie rock bands – but, make no mistake, The Slow Readers Club are carving their own way in the genre.

The first impression is that this release was written to be performed in stadiums, or somewhere big enough to accommodate its expansive sound, perhaps stemming from the mindset and energy in which it was developed on tour. The album provides quick, toe-tapping rhythms from drummer David Whitworth, clean, poppy guitar lines from Kurtis Starkie and James Ryan, finished off with intentional, well-enunciated vocals from Aaron Starkie – the kind that demand to be sung with full lungs and open arms.

Opening track ‘All I Hear’ was the first single release from the album, and offers an uplifting start without hesitation or unnecessary progression. It’s unclear exactly what the lyrics mean, but the repeated lines “Been trying to catch a wave for so long, you know this tale too well / Confined I am contained” could reference the band’s hard graft to date and their desire for continuing success.

Overall, ‘The Joy Of The Return’ is well put-together, not diverging too far from a core sound that’s upbeat with melodic bridges, anthemic choruses, and often dark lyrics. Hints of different genres and techniques can be found peppered throughout, supporting the album’s claim to ‘explore a vast swathe of sonic territory’.

‘Idols’ has a gentler start, with Starkie’s masterfully controlled vocals building to a musical crescendo that softly fades away. ‘No Surprise’ has an almost jungle-inspired introduction, whilst ‘Paris’ makes use of synthesizers throughout. An album highlight is the penultimate track ‘Zero Hour’, thanks to the stripped-back start and drum progression beginning at 00:29. It’s the shortest song on the album, but is perfectly formed with a light and poppy chorus. ‘Killing Me’ and the final track ‘The Wait’ are a little heavier and more brooding but, again, the same key elements are there.

Was this a joyful return for The Slow Readers Club? The album does lack a little in variety, in comparison to other bands that demonstrably stretch their talents across a wider range of styles. But, for those with a keen ear who can pick up the subtle influences throughout, or for anyone who enjoys a solid indie anthem, ‘The Joy Of The Return’ is undeniably a quality piece of work.

Having secured a loyal fan base in their northern heartland, with a sizeable discography and growing portfolio of gigs and festivals, ‘The Joy Of The Return’ could be the wave that carries The Slow Readers Club closer to the shores of mainstream success.


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