I think it was Mac DeMarco who breached the final barrier of bringing smooth yacht rock back to the realm of the hipsters, but I’m glad he did. He proved that just like every genre which gets a blanket opinion, there were reasons it got popular in the first place which are lost in the noise of disdain. Without this breakdown, we’d miss out on bands like Slow Dancer, and that would be a terrible thing.
Slow Dancer barely change their sound throughout their entire set. They’re a three piece with their variations limited to a limited subset of variations in sound. It’s a bold approach that draws attention to the strength of songwriting. For Slow Dancer, this is a good thing.
They look like a mismatched three piece where the drummer looks like he wants to break into some Minor Threat covers, a bassist who looks like a cross between Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear and a frontman whose outfit alone could get him a deposit on a house. Sonically, they couldn’t be any more tuned in with each other, and that’s what really matters.
Just take “Don’t Believe”, the introduction to many of the band. It’s a delicious slice of moist chocolate cake in song form. Every note counts in its beautiful minimalism and everything is in its right place. Sure the first time you listen, you wonder if Kermit The Frog is the one singing, but it doesn’t take long for you to fall in love with that unique, nasal vocal style which fits the aesthetic so well. If anything, it ends up giving them a uniqueness once you get past the muppet connection, one which warms you to Simon Okely’s vocal tones.
Not many touring acts play the Milk Factory because the audio setup is so simple, but with such an uncomplicated sound, these guys could play in my toilet and sound good. What I’d be getting up to might prove distracting, but I trust the professionalism of these musicians to be able to rise above it and deliver an outstanding performance.
Their music is so hypnotically catatonic, that the majority of the crowd sit down on the rank carpet rather than stand up for the hour long set. Though acutely annoying to me, there’s arguably a certain charm to this music festival ethos, and the relatively calming effect their music has. When the gentle sway of “I Would” begins to play, they can still sway from the waist up.
Slow Dancer may be a band with a limited distinctive sound, but what they do within those limits is what makes them so great. They compliment each other so well to create music that walks a tightrope that threatens to fall into blandness at any point, but somehow always pull it round. They sound just as good live as they do recorded, and as a band who’ve released one of the best albums of the year with In A Mood, are more than worth your attention.
Slow Dancer performs at The Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on July 14th.