Although I am an advocate of music that is looking for a place in the future, which is forward-thinking and going somewhere, there is also plenty of room for music that tugs at some more nostalgic heartstrings. I’m not talking about the plunderers and plagiarists, copy-cats and sonic con artists who just repackage past glories and pass those sounds off as their own and particularly not those cover and tribute bands who, at best seem only to clog up the creative landscape. I’m talking about truly creative bands who manage to thread wonderful strands of familiarity through their fresh and original creations.Bands who are looking to the future whilst simultaneously dreaming of the past. Slow Coda is just such a band.
And listening to their eponymous debut album, you can hear some subtle and sublime sonic magic at work. On the surface, their music is forward-thinking, modern, original and accessible, everything you feel that a great indie or alternative album of today should be about. It is when you focus on what is going on below the surface level that you really appreciate the album for what it is.
Slow Coda doesn’t do anything as crass and calculated as make music that sounds like times gone by, what they do is thread their music through with a feeling of the past. Amongst its various tones and textures you hear the echoes of college band melodies and dream-pop washes, road-trip radio sing-alongs and alternative music scenes, all-night parties and lazy days at the beach, gas station burritos, shopping mall hanging and first loves. It feels nostalgic, a possible soundtrack to a personal coming of age but also modern and moving with the times…although admittedly musical styles are cyclical and so moving with the times is anything but a linear process.
The opening salvo, World of Motion, sets the scene perfectly, a blend of understated rock weight and indie cool, shimmering dream-like swathes of sound and hazy, sun-kissed vocals. And from there, they just push out at the various boundaries they have set for themselves.
Levitown chimes and charms in its shining and shimmering warmth, reminding me of The Church, which is never a bad thing, Waking Dream is a slow-burning cloud of dream and drift, slowly adding weight when looking to talk to the head, playing with more emotive sounds when going for the heart and Melt Away shows that the band can easily write a perfect crossover indie-pop hit any time they chose.
If you are going to tug nostalgic heartstrings then you have to learn the art of it. Wholesale theft and repetition is not the way. It is a cleverer and more sophisticated craft than the revivalists and retro bands will ever understand. I’m not going to divulge those secrets in public, all I am going to say is that listening to this full-length release from Slow Coda will give you a real headstart.