Whilst for millions of young children and annoying office workers, it is the happiest time of the year, for many Christmas is a time of sorrow and self-loathing. Whilst Cliff Richard can harp on until his heart is content about misteltoe and wine, Slow Club are treating us to yet another festive offering that mainly focuses on the somber aspects of yuletide. If you’re having a bad time over the festive period this year, it’s probably best to give this a miss, especially if your woes are love related. On ‘It’s Christmas and you’re boring me’, Rebecca sings ‘You’ve made me happy/But you don’t excite me/I’ll wait ’til new year to tell you that we’re through’, which is about as honest of a portrayal of falling out of love as can be managed. The mood hardly lightens elsewhere on the album either, with Charles telling Christmas that it’s ‘made a doubter out of me’, far removed from the Slade inspired jollity that you’d likely expect on such an album.
The main thrust of the EP seems to be that this is a festive album that can be played all year round. The tracks in themselves are hardly laden with sleighbells, nor do they even tend to focus on the season itself too much – this is essentially just a collection of Slow Club songs, which is obviously far from a bad thing. The one truly traditional effort is a cover of ‘Silent Night’, which is more a rock and roll instrumental than an ode to the little boy Jesus. Their one true claim to a Christmas single could come in ‘Christmas (baby please come home)’ which manages to decks itself with most of the fittings that you’d expect in a usual effort, mixed with the yearning that the seem to have set as the theme throughout.
Whilst this will probably sound just as good and relevant come July due to the band’s hesitance to fully embrace the chestnuts roasting on an open fire ethic, it doesn’t really match up to ‘yeah, So’. The songs in themselves are still the same, signature stuff that we all love the band for – folky guitars, tender vocals and lyrics that fluctuate between the brutally honest and quirky, but for the most part, it misses out the element that sets them far apart from their contemporaries. When the band are at their best – on, say ‘Because we’re dead’, for instance, is when they put their own slant upon the boy/girl vocals, and the interplay between them. For the most part, this is an album of solo efforts, with both taking 2 individual tracks each, with Rebecca providing backing vocals on Charles’ ‘Christmas, Thanks for Nothing’.
Whilst the band and Moshi Moshi must be lauded for putting so much effort into an album that generally has little scope for year-round sales and for providing what is likely to be the soundtrack to many Christmases this year, it’s telling that last year’s song ‘Christmas TV’, which features both members of the band on singing duties, is also the highlight. Charles’ tuneful variety of monotone perfectly plays off Rebecca’s soaring vocals, a reminder of what is missing elsewhere on the EP. Still, highly recommended, and it’s definitely grows on you over time, rather than grating as most Christmas songs do. We can only hope for a follow-up this time next year.
Slow Club – Christmas TV