If Billy Corgan and J Mascis joined Sonic Youth to form a supergroup, I imagine it would sound incredibly similar to Slow Power Up’s first full-length album KeyStrings & Lockets (released March 24th, 2018). But let’s face it, there’s probably a better chance of a Beatles reunion with all the original members.
Singer/guitarist Ravi Light sings with the same nasally, high pitched quality as Corgan that had the entire alternative 90s scene melting inside its tattered jeans and plaid shirts. “Asher & Azrael” showcases that perfectly. The song also has a noise pop vibe to it, with some insanely loud and abrasive guitar parts a la Sonic Youth. The problem with taking this approach to song composition is that it puts an extreme emphasis on having a catchy melodic core to the song and I don’t necessarily hear it on this one. I will add that it feels close, like a fantastic mixed drink that’s just missing the squeeze of lime.
“Vice Versa” features a blistering solo by guitarist Aoi Ono (any relation to Yoko?) that in a traditional sense would seem out of place but ends up working well in tandem with Slow Power Up’s caustic guitar shrieks and Light’s “I’ve had a cold my entire life” vocals. It’s a concoction that Dinosaur Jr used in the 90s to garner one of the largest cult followings since L. Ron Hubbard. (The “L” was for Lafayette, I guess he wasn’t a fan of that name).
There are a few songs on Keystrings & Lockets that get lost in the shuffle. “Becoming the Villain,” is a bluesy romp that mostly meanders and never hits the g-spot. “Rune” is a prodigious undertaking at over seven minutes that ultimately feels a bit too ambitious, though I’ll once again add that it feels close to hitting the right mark. Other songs hit the mark quite nicely, such as “The Great Escape,” a soft, whimsical number that plays like a lullaby and reminds me of the kind of stuff the Smashing Pumpkins were doing on Adore.
If it’s apparent that I couldn’t make up my mind on how to feel about KeyStrings & Lockets that’s because it’s true. I’ll admit it I’m still searching for the right words. I am after all human and maybe I need to spend much more time unraveling this one. What I can at least hope for is that these humble paragraphs inspire you to check out Slow Power Up because what I can say without a hint of discernable doubt is that they are well worth the listen.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Mike Milito