Band Image – Credit: Trust A Fox Photography
One of the great things about being a music journalist is that you get early access to new music. The downside of that is that you have to keep it to yourself, until the day of release. Yes, you can talk about it, write about, tell everyone how great it is, but until everyone gets to hear it in all it’s glory, you can come across as a self-aggrandising prick.
I’ve been sitting on my hands since January, desperate to share this, Knowledge Freedom Power, an early contender for album of the year in February!
From the Dead Or Alive flavour of opening track Modernise, a big bold statement, almost hinting of a new direction, it treads a parallel vocal path like some of Spear of Destiny’s finest moments, before the ultra-precise electro beats and a buzzsaw industrial-synth riff fights for prominence with the raw humanity of Aaron Starkie’s vocal. There’s a certain irony here in that, ‘Modernise’ is about the constant need to learn and adapt to changing, it’s a bit of a techno fear song”, whilst being a banging techno-centric track.
There’s a lot of darkness in the lyrics, in stark contrast to the upbeat, anthemic tunes. Seeing hope in the grim dystopian landscape we currently find ourselves living in. It touches on the robotic automation of life, the sense of disconnection and disenfranchisement. Frontman Aaron Starkie says, “The world had got so bleak it felt a little indulgent to paint apocalyptic pictures when they were out in the real world. I thought people would probably want to hear more uplifting things, it was my intention to be a bit more positive. There’s still a lot of melodrama in there and it’s still dystopian in places but there’s more positive shades in this record.”
From his humble working class beginnings, brought up on the much maligned Manchester sink estate that is Wythenshawe, the determination to rise above, to prove his worth, ultimately drives Starkie and this should be the moment that they cross the Rubicon into true international recognition, as Muse, Bloc Party and White Lies have done before them.
These are huge soundscapes, voluminous drums, searing scuzzy keyboards and guitar. Plenty of light and shade, space to breathe. They’re not all delivered at breakneck speed, Lay Your Troubles On Me, is beautiful and understated in it’s meandering, extending the warm hand of friendship, before moving up a gear, allowing Starkie to demonstrate his true vocal range, almost Jimmy Somervile-esque.
Not quite at the arena status just yet, but it can only be matter of time as this album explodes, attracting a wider audience. You just get the feeling though, that their feet will stay firmly planted, less they get slapped down. They like their heroes in Mancunia, but forget them or fuck them off at your peril. Somehow, I think that reminder won’t be necessary for Slow Readers Club.
Knowledge Freedom Power is out now on Velveteen Records and available on all major platforms as well as vinyl or CD direct from the band’s website here
Tickets are still available for most of their upcoming tour from here
2nd – UK, Barrow-in-Furness, Barrow Library (SOLD OUT)
4th – UK, Leeds, University Stylus
6th – UK, Glasgow, SWG3
7th – UK, Aberdeen, Lemon Tree
9th – UK, Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
10th – UK, Birmingham, O2 Academy 2
11th – UK, Bristol, Thekla
13th – UK, Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
14th – UK, London, Lafayette
17th – UK, Manchester, Albert Hall (SOLD OUT)
23rd – Germany, Berlin, Lido
24th – Germany, Hamburg, Übel & Gefährlich
25th – Belgium, Antwerp, Trix Club
30th – France, Paris, Supersonic
31st – Netherlands, Rotterdam, Rotown (SOLD OUT)
1st – Netherlands, Amsterdam, Paradiso Tolhuistuin
14th – UK, Belfast, Limelight 2
15th – Ireland, Dublin, Academy
29th – Portugal, Porto, M.Ou.Co