Belgium doesn’t get much credit in the music world. Having few names by the way of massive musical exports means the country’s artistry is often overlooked. Dig deep enough and you can find some real gems, the most recent of which is Slow Crush. Releasing their debut album, Aurora, on Holy Roar Records should be an immediate sign of quality, and it’s something of a left field choice for the best record label currently active.
The album opens with its most up tempo track, Glow. A fusion of dream pop, shoegaze and post punk, it lies somewhere between the ethereal landscapes of Deftones’ Gore and the pummelling grit of Milk Teeth’s Vile Child, all via My Bloody Valentine and Alcest Mancunian vocalist, Isa Holliday, gives a wonderful performance. Her performance is breathy and soothing, with a lackadaisical and purposeful instrumentation. The result is a mixture of Chino Moreno on Deftones quieter songs like Digital Bath or Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker, and Adele’s Skyfall.
The rhythm section remain hard hitting and consistent throughout the album’s duration, reaching their apex of musical ability on penultimate track, Beached. Yet another danceable tune from this storming debut. The lead work of the guitars are spacey and wisp like. There’s so much space in the playing that ideas are able to fully develop without feeling overbearing or overwritten. Every instrument on this album serves its purpose expertly. There’s clearly no ego here, and no need to outdo each other.
If there is a criticism to be levelled at the album, it’s that it is a tad one paced. Such a wonderful amalgamation of several genres is commendable. However, it may have been wiser to separate some of the elements to create more distinctive songs. While the soundscapes we are presented with vary in their levels of post punk and pop thrown in, the album feels like an elongated single piece, rather than a collective whole.
Relatively minor criticism aside, this album is a wonderful debut. Superb blending of genres, and proficient musicianship make for a more than enjoyable listen. Slow Crush may not be the finished article just yet, but there’s a lot of potential for greatness within these eight excellent songs.