Slow Children – Slow Children | 1981 – 3.5
(…continued from last post)
I loved how Ms. Shazar prowled around the intro of “She’s Like America” like a cat over the staccato rhythm guitar riff and lone hi-hat. After a minimal intro, the tracks settled down to a low key New Wave number with guitarist Andrew Chinich adding strategic BVs throughout the song. The use of metaphor in the song was spot on as the band compared a portrait of petulance to the great nation I live in. And it left like an even more apt comparison two generations later!
The second single here was probably the band’s calling card, at least in America, where I manged to see the video for “President Am I” at least twice. Fortunately, the “Blitz” sampler already pre-sold me on the band’s merits, so I already had the album by that time. The tune was built around a insanely catchy quacking synth riff with the dry bass guitar up front. Never before had angst sounded so playful and upbeat. Ms. Shazar was expert at framing her anxiety in the most intriguing and even entertaining way possible. And the music of Mr. Chinich was happy to move the needle all the way into euphoria for the sake of contrast. Between this album and the US edition of the same, and Promo 12″ singles, I had three different mixes of this song; all of them differing – all of them great.
“To Weak To Eat” had a precise, minimal intro of just a two-note guitar figure [not a million miles away from The B-52’s “Quiche Lorraine” intro, now that I think about it…], hi-hat and drums. An expert use of creating a spacious and uncluttered sonic environment from producers Jules Shear and Stephen Hague. The angelic BVs were offset by the usual disquietude to be found in Shazar’s lyric, which was mirrored in the disruptive, percussive synth hook from co-producer Hague.
The frenetic popcorn synth riff and throbbing bassline of “Home Life” marked this song as one for the dance floor. It’s is a failing of my life that I never got to bop to and fro to the sound of this one back in the days of a New Wave club like Faith In Physics [r.i.p.]. Good lord, this one was tailor made for such a setting. And if any director has a scene that took place in such a tableau they would be insane not to license this song as the protagonist evaded their pursuers by going into a club there this song was playing in the edgy Jonathan Demme [r.i.p.] film in my head.
The third single here was a re-recorded version of their debut from 1979 on Jet Records. The guitar on this one had a zesty tone with a good blend of distortion and sustain; giving the song a touch of an Elliot Easton sound on the solo. Ms. Shazar’s trait of articulating the lyric on the meter of the beat was certainly her sound in Slow Children, with many of the tunes employing that technique.
The frantic drumrolls and motorik beat of the penultimate track, “Ticket To France,” almost pegged this number as the token Punk Rock song on this otherwise very New Wave album. The energy levels began at full speed and only ramped up their energy of escape as the song progressed to its climactic cold ending to end all cold endings. When it happened, I really didn’t see any other way for it to end.
The stately piano that opened “Stuck In Transit” signaled that there would be a return to some sort sort of personal dignity following the meltdown of the preceding song. It ended the album on a pensive note and at around 34 minutes, it clearly left one wanting more.
The brand of pop on the album staked a claim on the turn of New Wave; featuring enervated songs of anxiety as sung by Ms. Shazar over the normally buoyant pop melodies as provided by Mr. Chinich. The hyperactivity of her delivery coupled with her unabashedly intellectual approach to lyrics won me over immediately. As usual, the juxtaposition of the angst of the vocals and the ebullience of the music bed worked like a charm for my ears.
The capable support of the duo from the producers Jules Shear and Stephen Hague and their Jules + The Polar Bears drummer David Beebe cut a sharp vibrant path through the left-field pop the band wanted to explore. This was an enticing album that had me prepared for more to come. Little did I know that album number two would follow on even more swiftly than I could have anticipated.
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