There is something instantly familiar about Slowcoaching that I just can’t quite put my finger on. I am tempted to suggest it’s that they wear their influences on their sleeve a little too conspicuously.
Their amalgamation of The War On Drugs’ groove based rock, The Cure’s hyper melodic guitars and DIIV’S reverb drenched dream pop is definitely on trend. But I don’t think that’s it. It’s certainly not the whole story.
Rippling with a rhythm you would never pick as a rookie’s, Slowcoaching work their way into a sonic sweet spot on All The Same.
All The Same, the band’s debut EP, sounds so resolved and confident that it bears few of the hallmarks of a debut at all. It sounds like the work of a band well past the point of ironing out their awkward edges and figuring out who they are. As I sat on the train listening to the release for the first time, taking in the sun and the Harbour Bridge, I couldn’t help but think that it sounded like summer.
That last assertion, at least at a glance, may appear slightly bizarre. The first track of the EP is named after Berlin, a city better known for its underground clubbing and harsh winters. However, songwriter Dean Valentino imbues his lyrics with a very Australian brand of off-the-cuff humour, remarking “Hey, get around in your Birkenstocks Berlin! The icy shadows down alleyways, it’s all the same to me”.
The song is a memory coloured by nostalgia; it doesn’t feel of Berlin, but rather a traveller’s fond recollection of it. It all sounds bloody fun and by the time the chorus morphs into an outro, most listeners will have a difficult time stopping their heads from bopping along.
Pillars Of Salt, another stand out track, gets off the mark with some lush electric guitars that recall The Cure’s mega-hit Friday I’m in Love before establishing its own trajectory. The more subdued verses allow the song space to breathe and not feel overblown by the extremely catchy, persistent chorus.
It’s a track that buzzes with the romance and melody of the ’80s, yet manages avoid the cloying hit factory dynamic that too many songs of that era suffered from. Although that chorus sure does enjoy toeing the line.
Night Fiction and I Don’t Want To Change Your Mind are both songs that suggest a more melancholy approach which is never fully realised. While this isn’t a problem for either song individually, or the EP as a whole due to its short length, this is a direction that could produce strong future results.
It is undeniable that the EP benefits from a strong sonic identity. However, over the course of a full length release this dedication to such a particular sound could prove a tad too homogeneous. A little bit of piss and vinegar or a more confrontational emotionality could widen the band’s range, sonic palette and appeal dramatically.
That said, there is a whole lot to love about Slowcoaching as they appear on All The Same. They are a band that are quite simply a lot of fun to listen to. However, they display enough quality in terms of their songwriting, musicianship and taste to suggest that they could be even more than that. It just might require them to highlight some of their rougher edges and more idiosyncratic tendencies; features that I stress are already there.
I mean come on, it’s a pretty unique songwriter that starts their debut EP off with a lyrical line that mentions Birkenstocks, and it’s a pretty talented one that manages to pull it off like this one does.
Catch Slowcoaching live at the All The Same launch shows: