The Slow Show discuss their epic and elegant third album ‘Lust and Learn’, an immersive emotional soundtrack full of hurting and healing, pain and warmth.
Stream: ‘Lust and Learn’ – The Slow Show
Rather than writing explicit stories on this record, we wanted to create moments of feeling, moods, scenes for people to explore and experience in their own ways.
Manchester’s The Slow Show have always been something of a unique entity amongst indie bands. Committed to creating aural experiences and unfettered by the day’s dominant trends, the four-piece of Rob Goodwin, Frederick’t Kindt, Joel Byrne-McCullough, and Chris Hough have been turning heads with their powerhouse minimalist music for nearly ten years now. Whether it’s Rob Goodwin’s deep, striking baritone that hits first, or his bandmates’ incredibly moving instrumental work, The Slow Show are (and have always been) a band worth getting to know well; theirs is the kind of music that will mend a broken heart, and sooth a grieving soul. This year, they released their most ambitious and elegant work of art yet in their third album Lust and Learn, an immersive emotional pastiche full of warmth, pain, and everything in-between.
Eye to Eye
I could wail away for hours today
But no one’s going to see
Eye to Eye, this time
I could spend the day for hours away
But no one’s going to see
Eye to Eye, how will I
How will I get through today with you
When no one’s going to see
Eye to Eye, this time
It’s all I see, there’s time to be
This time I will try, I will try
Released August 30, 2019 via PIAS, Lust and Learn heralds The Slow Show’s return to the fore after a nearly three-year gap. The band’s 2015 debut album White Water set a high bar: “Its volatility reflects the rawest aspects of the human experience,” Atwood Magazine wrote at the time, going on to describe how Goodwin’s “deep voice echoes throughout the ethereal, colorfully layered compositions” and how “minimalism meets opulence, and the two melt together in an organic fusion. Darkness and light gracefully collide like long-lost lovers.”
2016’s sophomore album Dream Darling seemed to continue where White Water left off, with songs like the epic lead single “Ordinary Lives” swelling with haunting force.
The ensuing three years have seen change both within and around The Slow Show – from plenty of European tours, to Brexit, to Goodwin moving from Manchester to Dusseldorf, to switching record labels, and a healthy eighteen months spent finessing what would ultimately become the band’s third full-length studio album.
“We spent long periods working on ideas alone and then we’d meet for short, intense spells together refining things,” Goodwin explains. “This space and distance had a positive influence on the record.”
Those intense spells play out through a graceful and sophisticated expression of such nuanced, deeply human themes as grief and healing. “I’d like to say that I’m better now I’m home, but I’m still low,” Goodwin sings amongst somber piano, a thumping rhythm section, and the breathtaking Halle Youth Choir. His words melt into the landscape as just one piece of a greater sonic narrative that aches with a redemptive grace. As in many of this band’s creations, “Low” goes well beyond the usual bounds of a song in its efforts to make the audience feel.
Whereas The Slow Show’s previous two records were starkly personal and captured the struggles and strains of its band mates, Lust and Learn is “our attempt at capturing moments of feeling,” per Goodwin. Stories come together in different songs, and while they may not speak directly to the band’s personal lives, they nevertheless resonate with that same characteristic poignant, provocative charisma.
“The Fall” seems to hurt and heal the most. Per the band, they wrote “The Fall” after a fan emailed them “to say how their song saved her life. She was on a motorway bridge when a Slow Show song came on shuffle.” She’s in a better place now, and her experience inspired a song that truly captures everything there is to love about this band. Its lyrics capture both the utter depths of depression and hopelessness, as well as a sort of healing, redemptive process coming out of darkness and into the light:
Can’t stand the pain,
I’ve tried for days, I can feel it all
Won’t walk away,
this stops today, I can see it all
Don’t try and call me down
This stops, it’s over now
This is a call for love
Because I can’t stand it all
I’ve tried to call
I’ve tried to call
While one would be remiss to not mention the evocative weight of songs like “Eye to Eye,” “Exit Wounds,” and “Places You Go,” or the incredible vocal prowess of guest singer Kesha Ellis, these aspects are ultimately pieces of a profound whole.
Lust and Learn is a cinematic, breathtaking, shiver-inducing soundtrack to the moments that matter most in our lives.
It is a complex chameleon full of entangled emotions; a raw, epic 47-minute endeavor that may drain you in the short-term, but leave you better off and more fulfilled in the long run.
Atwood Magazine spoke with The Slow Show’s Rob Goodwin about the stories and sounds behind Lust and Learn. Dive into this majestic album in our interview below, and stream it where you listen to music!
Our main hope with our music is that it moves people – that’s always been the goal.
A CONVERSATION WITH THE SLOW SHOW
First of all, it’s so exciting to me to see The Slow Show on your 3rd album now. What have you learned about making an album along the way, and how did you incorporate that into this record?
The Slow Show: We‘ve learnt to be patient with each other and more importantly our thoughts and ideas. We’re all living in different cities and countries now, which made the writing and recording process for this album very different to our previous albums. We spent long periods working on ideas alone and then we’d meet for short, intense spells together refining things. This space and distance had a positive influence on the record. It allowed the songs and our early sketches to develop slowly at their own pace and the distance amongst us as songwriters created a patience, a freedom and openness to new ideas and ways of working.
Is The Slow Show the same musical act you were 10 years ago? How do you think you’ve changed - and what are you trying to actively do in your music these days, that you weren’t doing back in the early 2010s?
The Slow Show: Lust and Learn is our attempt at capturing moments of feeling. Rather than writing explicit stories on this record, we wanted to create moments of feeling, moods, scenes for people to explore and experience in their own ways. Our main hope with our music is that it moves people – that’s always been the goal.
Rob, you’ve got one of the most distinct voices in the game, and I mean that. How have you honed your singing style?
The Slow Show: It’s kind of you to say so but I’ve never considered myself a singer. For a long time we looked for somebody else to sing the songs but we didn’t find anyone. In the mean time I’d become more and more comfortable singing our songs. The voice in our band is just another way of telling a story. In that way its limitations and imperfections suit our band very well.
Do you have any tips for bass and baritone singers, on getting started and following their passions?
The Slow Show: Be honest and sincere. If people don’t believe you, all the technical advice in the world won’t help you.
“Amend” is such an epic, orchestral introduction and segue into “Eye to Eye.” How did these two songs come about, and can you tell me about their significance on the album?
The Slow Show: We love the idea that someone will listen to our Album in one sitting, in its entirety. We hope people get something from the record’s entirety that they wouldn’t get from individual tracks. The instrumental pieces are important parts of a bigger picture. Hopefully they join the dots a little.
“Amend” is essentially the extended introduction for “Eye to Eye” but also the prelude to the album. It’s an instrumental journey inspired by a fear of the unknown. We hope it prepares the listener for what’s to come.
I’m stunned by “Low.” Your lyrics and the emotional elements at play are particularly powerful. To me, it’s an anthem of hope in darkness. How do you view it, and what does it represent for you personally?
The Slow Show: The song documents periods of unhappiness and failed attempts at escaping them. Rather than being somber, the song to me is bold and defiant. The last chorus, “You’re getting old, boy,” is a note to self, a timely reminder to find an even keel. It’s hard sometimes but life is worth living.
These streets, they just don’t know me
Like you seem to do
But the loneliness is new
Take away this crown
Face paint’s running down these walls
I’d like to say that I’m better now I’m home
But I’m still low
Mr. Blue, Mr. Grey, you’re fine
But you drag me down
And I’ve tried fucking every girl in town
But I’m still down
And it’s here again today
Sticks around won’t go away
But it’s colder than before
It does you no good
But you try to say that it’s okay
This is all you, all you know
Always, always low
Can you speak about the album art for a minute? How does it relate to the record?
The Slow Show: The artwork is by a wonderful artist called Aliza Razell. When I first saw Aliza’s image I was overwhelmed by the Landscape, it’s depth and the sense of isolation it evoked. How it shifted perspective and how the subjects evoked a sense of time – past and present. Above all, it moves me. These are things we aim to achieve with our music. In this way it’s the perfect cover.
What’s coming up for The Slow Show? Any tours to NYC any time soon? Are you actively making more music or does that tend to come in random spurts?
The Slow Show: We‘d love to come to NYC, hopefully one day it’s possible! For the moment we have a European tour in March and new music coming out very soon which we‘re very excited about.
Lastly, who are you listening to right now, that our readers should be checking out? Who are your musical recommendations?
The Slow Show: As I’m writing this interview, I’m listening to Ólafur Arnalds.
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📸 © 2019
Lust and Learn
an album by The Slow Show