Puddlegum

covering dream pop, shoegaze, bedroom pop

Review: Slow Pulp – Moveys

Written by Daniel Belgrad (Vern Matz)

Moveys relentlessly presses forward at its own deliberate pace, a train rhythmically toppling over the tracks. Producing a great many knots in my stomach, the album supplements its nostalgic energy with an intense burst of vivacity, as if My Bloody Valentine crossbred with an introspective teen and an acoustic guitar. Not many records make you tear up and head bang at the same time; Moveys does.

There is a real mastery working in Moveys, where instrumental choices are repeated, but those sounds are so remarkably strong that they carry the whole record. Doubled acoustic guitars, fuzzy electrics, a fat snare, and Emily Massey’s multi-tracked, heart ripping voice: that’s really the whole record. Musical simplicity (and artistic simplicity) forces you to stare at a structure in its most basic constituents, essentially naked. Most break into pieces, but where the structures stand tall, you get a window into something so refined and so vulnerable, it approaches the sublime. 

Slow Pulp is strikingly reminiscent of 90s bands, while also standing in as a poster child for a fast developing branch of indie music that was born from the world of bedroom pop (and Spotify is clearly privy to the trend, if not creating it). David Hume famously talked about a missing shade of blue, a thought experiment where you see two shades of blue on a color palette and must imagine the shade that goes in between. Slow Pulp feels like a missing shade of blue, a bridge from Elliott Smith to the modern era, where a bunch of kids make music in homes, not studios. The difference is that Slow Pulp was never obvious, but in achieving a status as the archetypal, they’ve made it look obvious. Put simpler, have you ever eaten a cookie and thought “Aha! That’s how a cookie should taste”. Slow Pulp is my musical equivalent. That’s how music should taste!

Okay, let’s talk specifics. Moveys opens with New Horses and Trade It. We get the record’s first signature: wide acoustic guitars next to Emily Massey’s vocals. Drums do not enter until midway through the second song. We’re awaiting a train, thinking about yesteryear, the album slowly shifting gears. Idaho welcomes an aggressive college basement version of Slow Pulp, and we rock out for four songs, an energetic apex for the group. Channel 2 is a notably well written song, the novelty of a new singer putting exclamation points around it. After a piano interlude, we get Falling Apart: a 21st century Fade Into You, that shines brighter than any star I’ve ever seen (pun intended). Staring into an emotional abyss, Massey croons, “Why don’t you go back to falling apart, you were so good at that.” There is legitimate desperation on the track, and the cloying intensity is grand. Ironically, it is at this emotional breaking point that Slow Pulp towers over its own creation, triumphant in their own dejection.

There is both comfort and great difficulty in circularity, and Moveys’ emotional palette emphasizes this contradiction. A warm blanket to sink into Slow Pulp pushes you to surrender to pattern, while recognizing the gnawing anxieties of habituation. There is rebellious energy, seeking to dispel borders, and there is resignation, even despair. There is fun and there is pain, and on Moveys, we stare directly into both, frames endlessly rushing by, the scaffolding of a building that never falls apart.

Highlights: Trade It, Idaho, Channel 2, Falling Apart

Slow Pulp: Moveys (YouTube)

Slow Pulp released Moveys on October 9, 2020 via Winspear.

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