fri 03/02/2023

CD: The Pastels – Slow Summits | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Pastels – Slow Summits

CD: The Pastels – Slow Summits

After too long away, Scotland’s indie monarchs and their extended family return to charm

'Slow Summits': anomie, loss and rain-streaked windows

It's apt that the word "slow" crops up in the title of the first album proper in 16 years from Scotland’s seminal and influential indie kingpins. "Stately" would be even more suitable. The pace at which Stephen McRobbie and long-term accomplice Katrina Mitchell move is akin to the speed change is accommodated by the rules governing accession to the British throne. And, in many ways, The Pastels are as important to the fabric of what makes this island nation tick as the royal family.

Without the Pastels there would have been no Creation Records, no Jesus & Mary Chain, no Primal Scream.

As musical returnees, they aren’t going to make the same waves as David Bowie, but Slow Summits and The Next Day share an awareness of the artists' own pasts – who they are musically and culturally. In 2013, The Pastels may be more soft-focus than before but they are still defined by McRobbie’s wayward vocals, his love of Jonathan Richman, The Velvet Underground, Bossa Nova pop, the shuffle of Curtis Mayfield and Mitchell’s off-kilter drumming. In the current line up, she and McRobbie are joined by fellow Pastels and collaborators including members of Teenage Fanclub, Germany's To Rococo Rot, Japan’s Tenniscoats and newly-returned former colleague Annabel Wright.

Slow Summits hinges on its penultimate cut, the lovely “Slowly Taking Place”. This measured, seductive instrumental shows that lyrics (there are some wordless vocals) aren’t necessary in Pastel-world to evoke anomie, loss and rain-streaked windows. “Summer Rain” has the flavour of the Velvet’s “Who Loves the Sun”, hardly an unexpected nod. But where Slow Summits does surprise is with its overall atmosphere of early-morning contemplation. Reflection defines this album. Their return won’t change the world, but it does offer a reassurance that things can be A-OK.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the trailer for The Pastels' Slow Summits

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