By Alyce Ruby
Manchester band The Slow Readers Club have returned with their highly anticipated sixth album, ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’. A far cry from ’91 Days in Isolation’ released in the wake of 2020’s pandemic, the new album is noticeably brighter and hopeful, yet a little darkness still lingers.
The 37-minute album brought together The Slow Readers Club and Courteeners producer Joe Cross, for the first time, fusing dystopian themes with an optimism we haven’t heard from the band before. The collaboration has resulted in an early 80’s synth-rock sound, a breath of fresh air for the Mancunian rockers.
Aaron Starkie, the band’s frontman said, “The world had got so bleak it felt a little indulgent to paint apocalyptic pictures when they were out in the real world. I thought people would probably want to hear more uplifting things, it was my intention to be a bit more positive. There’s still a lot of melodrama in there and it’s still dystopian in places but there’s more positive shades in this record.”
The album kicks off with ‘Modernise’, it speaks of a yearning to be free of societal pressure, to break the expectations we all feel on our shoulders. The bridge’s mantra, “Get a job, find a girl, hurry up, don’t be late, pressure’s on to belong, taken all I can take”; is the mould we ‘should’ fit into, the rest of the track challenges this idea, to break free.
‘Afterlife’ is a lyrically, beautifully poetic anthem with a slower tempo than most of the other songs on the album. ‘Sacred Song’ is an upbeat, positive track – both explore themes of love in a vastly different tone.
The latest single ‘Lay Your Troubles On Me’ is musically darker yet lyrically uplifting, “Come lay your troubles on me, we’ll fight the fear.” After the past couple of years, this track encourages us to lean on one another and fight whatever comes our way together. Title track ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’ utilises the synth sound in the best way, the tempo of the beat matching the power of the lyrics, speaking of ‘tearing down the walls’ to obtain knowledge, freedom and power.
‘What Might Have Been’ is probably, musically, my personal favourite on the album. Another love anthem that seems to accept that help and this particular love is needed to carry on. ‘Forget About Me’ infuses the synth influences with the slow tempo of the previous tracks. Whilst the tone of the song feels quite dark, the lyrics encourage us to live in the moment and leave negativity behind, “Time has come to call you out, all you’ve ever said, no it’s never been true/know we only get one life, choose another day to cry.”
Ending on a strong note with ‘No You Never’, explores themes of mental health and inner demons, my take is that it’s dealing with the hopelessness felt during the lockdowns of the pandemic, “Each day just like the one before, see all the bridges burning, and so the world keeps turning/I can not escape the fool I am, so, so hollow.”
‘Knowledge Freedom Power’ is a body of work chock-full of powerful statements with glimmers of light and optimism. For a band that’s been releasing music for this long, it’s refreshing to see that they still have new ideas and sounds to explore.
The Slow Readers Club goes on tour in March and April:
2nd – UK, Barrow-in-Furness, Barrow Library (SOLD OUT)
4th - UK, Leeds, University Stylus
6th - UK, Glasgow, SWG3
7th - UK, Aberdeen, Lemon Tree
9th - UK, Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
10th - UK, Birmingham, O2 Academy 2
11th - UK, Bristol, Thekla
13th - UK, Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
14th - UK, London, Lafayette
17th - UK, Manchester, Albert Hall (SOLD OUT)
23rd - Germany, Berlin, Lido
24th - Germany, Hamburg, Übel & Gefährlich
25th - Belgium, Antwerp, Trix Club
30th - France, Paris, Supersonic
31st - Netherlands, Rotterdam, Rotown (SOLD OUT)
1st - Netherlands, Amsterdam, Paradiso Tolhuistuin
14th - UK, Belfast, Limelight 2
15th - Ireland, Dublin, Academy