Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Slow Pulp’s new single ‘Cramps’ is one giant leap forward

Chicago-based quartet Slow Pulp have seen their fair share of triumph in the face of adversity. Their debut album ‘Moveys’, released on Winspear, was described by NME as “a record that is packed with a thousand deft little flourishes of texture which together add up to a deeply entrancing whole”. 

However, the record faced an up-hill battle, especially for lead singer/guitarist Emily Massey, who had faced a series of traumatic setbacks during its recording – including a Lyme disease diagnosis and a car accident involving her parents. A strong and admirable start then, but still, you could feel that underneath that first album’s sprawling Wolf Alice/Kurt Vile-adjacent indie-rock was a unique post-punk shoegaze outfit desperate to break through. 

Thus, backed by a new record label in Anti-, and a highly anticipated upcoming tour supporting Death Cab for Cutie, Slow Pulp are back in the game and finally embracing a harder sound with their new single ‘Cramps’. Boy, is it a cracker.

The band have shed their former sound for a track that would feel at home on the soundtrack of a grungy teen film like ‘Mallrats’ or ‘Donnie Darko’. Yet, it has the emotional core of an early Smashing Pumpkins record, and its refreshing no-nonsense origin attests to this. Massey explains that the song came about simply because of “a jam at practice right after I had proclaimed that my period cramps were particularly bad that day”. The sound reflects this brilliantly. Think Weezer, fronted by an early-career Robert Smith, with a fuzzed-out, dirty guitar riff courtesy of Massey and Henry Stoehr, some all-out Pixies-style hard drums from Teddy Mathews, and a vocal performance from Massey that is as ironic and devil-may-care as Billy Corgan or Courtney Love, having been fed through a distorted tape deck to give that crackly homegrown veneer.

That’s what really makes this record stand out. The back-to-basics, punk-infused alternative shoegaze rock production from Henry Stoehr rediscovers the genre’s origins and is elevated by a vivid bass line from Alex Leeds that rattles and hums like an American muscle-car engine roaring to life. 

Lyrically the track is a state-side equivalent to Feeder’s anthem to imposter syndrome, ‘Buck Rodgers.’ It's straight-up, minimal, and yet just cryptic enough to let you fill in the blanks. Massey describes it as being “about searching for things you wish you had in other people and creating this character in your head that has all the physical and emotional attributes you feel that you are lacking”. The chorus, a rising chord change with Massey chanting “I want everything” is likely to set live crowds jumping in rapture as soon as it starts.

In short, ‘Cramps’ looks like it's one giant leap forward towards truly great things for Slow Pulp and fans can only guess where they’ll go next. 


Ed Ward


Image: ‘Cramps’ Official Single Cover

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;