Slowly Slowly – Race Car Blues Chapter 2 (Album Review)

Slowly Slowly – Race Car Blues Chapter 2
Released: February 26th, 2021

Lineup:

Ben Stewart | Vocals/Guitar
Albert Doan | Guitar
Alex Quayle | Bass
Patrick Murphy | Drums

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In less than a year, Slowly Slowly have given us an entirely new album, and I’ll tell you what – I bloody knew they weren’t done after Race Car Blues. That album was monumental and felt like it was leading to more. And here we have it! Race Car Blues Chapter 2 carries on the vibe from last year’s release, but with a few more twists and turns and ups and downs.

‘Comets & Zombies’ could easily fit in with the tracks on Race Car Blues. It’d slide right in there next to ‘19’ and we’d all have a grand old time dancing happily. As the first song though, it digs deep into the feels with lyrics like, ‘You kinda look like a comet burning out, I don’t want you to die this way’. Somehow, the band manage to mix depressive lyrics with an upbeat feel – and seriously, where are they getting these riffs from? Great opening track.

But in my opinion this next song is the best on the album. On first listen, ‘The Best Bits’ raised all the hairs on my arms because you can feel how mental this song is going to be live. It’s just instant recognition with that opening flurry of drums and guitar behind Ben Stewart’s fast vocals. It might be a weird comparison, but it’s a similar style to their song ‘Aliens’ from St Leonards in the way Ben delivers the lyrics as run on sentences. And, excitingly, there’s a deeper rock sound with the chorus and I just want to go get hurt in that mosh pit.

We drop it down a level and introduce some twangy guitars and emotions with ‘Learning Curve’. Oh, but then it picks up and we have some rock! This is one of those songs where Ben would be spinning across the stage belting out the lyrics and just getting lost. And the crowd would, no doubt, be loving every second of it. But I do really want to talk about ‘Low’. This has been one of my favourites since it came out in 2019 and it’s just one of those tracks that worms its way into every one of your playlists because it’s perfect for every mood. Sad lyrics but banging melody – what more could you ask for? Ok, in all seriousness, this track is well put together concerning the ratio of vocals to melody. I don’t know if this is a thing for anyone else, but I reckon a song needs to have a good balance and showcase the instruments and also the vocals. And with ‘Low’, it’s just enough that you can get lost in either without the other taking over.

‘House On Fire’ is a straight up ballad. It’s acoustic with a simple drum pattern, and angelic backing vocals lend a whimsical feel. Boy, real sad song feels here. Bold to be placed in the middle of an album, too. ‘The Internet’ is well placed after ‘House On Fire’ because it starts softly so as not to startle you back to reality, and builds it’s way up to an indie rock summer song. Everyone needs a song to drive to with the windows down and hair whipping around your face, and this is the song you play when you’re driving home from the beach in the afternoon light. If you don’t get a visual from that description, I don’t know how else to describe this song to you.

You want a song that goes through a whole journey? It’s ‘Restless Legs’ for you. We get lifted up, we get dropped down low, and then built back up with some strong vocals before being taken to the end on a beautiful outro. It leads straight into ‘First Love feat. Yours Truly’ and this is a busy song. Beautiful, but busy. I just feel like I need time to take it all in, and this song doesn’t quite let you have any time to absorb it. In saying that, Mikaila Delgado lends some very complimentary vocals, and her harmonies with Ben are heavenly. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be singing her parts alone in my car.

‘Set The Table (The One That Got Away)’ is quite lovely and slow and deeply sad. I don’t think I’ve ever heard lyrics so poignant. This is not a song to listen to willy-nilly every day. Save this one for your sad days, okay? The violin and trumpets are nice at the end though. And to follow on with ‘The Level’? What a mess around! In the best possible way because the funk and groove in this song is unrivalled by anything on this album. The drum pattern will really get you going, and the pure sass is just invigorating. Vocal to melody ratio is on point as well. Also, if Ben doesn’t come out on stage in that fur coat he wears in the music video, I will riot.

We hear a new element to Slowly Slowly that may have been influenced by Ben’s solo project Congrats, because ‘Small Talk’ has some synthy sounds. The beginning of this song is quite simple and very lyric driven, but then it breaks and we are soaring on the wings of an angsty alt rock eagle. Then it brings us to a close on drawn out piano chords and beautiful cascading melodies. Chef’s kiss. And rounding out Race Car Blues Chapter 2 is ‘Anywhere’, and it’s a bit more pop than rock and pretty much finishes up the journey of this album from rock to sad to synthy pop. ‘Anywhere’ feels like a closing song, but with a ‘see you soon’ sign off instead of a ‘good bye’. And I like that.

Race Car Blues was the tip of the iceberg, and with RCB Chapter 2 we are given a better view below the water line and discover how much more is going on underneath the surface. I don’t even know if we’ve seen the whole iceberg yet. But what we have right now is new, exciting, and it’s pushing our concept of what we believe Slowly Slowly sounds like. RCB Chapter 2 is not what you’d expect, but still the anthemic-heart-on-your-sleeve type album, and exactly what you need.

Slowly Slowly – Race Car Blues Chapter 2 tracklisting:

1. Comets & Zombies
2. The Best Bits
3. Learning Curve
4. Low
5. House On Fire
6. The Internet
7. Restless Legs
8. First Love ft. Yours Truly
9. Set The Table (The One That Got Away)
10. The Level
11. Small Talk
12. Anywhere

Rating: 9.5/10
Race Car Blues Chapter 2 is out February 26th, 2021 via UNFD. Pre-order here.
Review by Ebony Story

About Ebony Story (116 Articles)
Wall of Sound Music Journo & Podcast Host // Loving the heavy heavy

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