By – Jackie Lo
Recommended if you like: Snail Mail, Land of Talk, Alvvays, Alex G, Sheryl Crow, Julien Baker, The Breeders
Slow Pulp, a Chicago quartet I’ve been following for a few years, released Yard, their sophomore album and their debut on Anti-, this week. I went for my daily walk today and popped this album on so I could listen to it uninterrupted as I wanted to know what it felt like to hear the album from beginning to end. I’d already really loved the singles “Doubt”, “Slugs”, and “Cramps” but wanted to experience it as a whole and in the order of the band’s preference.
My takeaway? It’s a beautiful introspective listen.
Yard opens with “Gone 2”, a melancholy song about wanting more from someone than you’re ready (or willing) to give. It’s full of insecurities, self reflection, and fear of loss, which are common threads throughout the album on other songs such as “Yard”, “Carina Phone 1000”, “MUD”, and “Fishes”. The next song “Doubt” feels like an unreleased Sheryl Crow song but with a darker underbelly. It’s a beautiful and purposeful mix of an upbeat, happy song full of lyrics about self doubt.
The first standout (and my favorite) track is “Cramps”. A good fuzz will get me every time as will giant bombastic drums and this loud, screamy, upbeat rocker is everything I could want in a song. I think at some point we’ve all struggled with comparing ourselves to someone else. “She seems so ambitious/ talking and she’s spitting/ And I think I know what I’m missing/ There’s nothing better/ Watch out for Heather”. But, after researching what this song was about and finding out the anger and self hatred was an outburst from PMS made this song even more lovable and relatable to me.This one deserves a windows-down scream “But I want everything (Everything)” at every chorus.
“Slugs” is another standout single about first loves and falling in love in the summertime. “Cause you’re a summer hit/ I’m singing it”. Such a catchy earworm and Emily Massey’s voice is so smooth and comforting that it makes the memory of a first love seem dreamy and nostalgic and not terrifying and heartbreaking at all…as it should be.
The unexpected last standout track for me is “Broadview”. With a flair of Americana and notes of Wilco and Wednesday, this track surprised me with its use of slide guitar, harmonica, and banjo which I would normally think wouldn’t work for this album, but it really does. Allowing yourself to open up to love after a long time and being vulnerable again is depicted perfectly in each chorus, “Or was I wrong?/ Or is it okay to stay inside/ And out of love?” with gorgeous harmonies that feel like hopeful/helpful inner voices.
Throughout my walk, I kept thinking this felt like a bedroom album, like something I’d want to write if I were holed away for days/weeks/months to create. As it turns out, Massey would go off to a friend’s cabin in the woods while writing for this album. It’s fitting to find the quiet moments while still keeping the collaborative framework of the band and it shows in the mix and types of songs throughout this album. Like I said earlier, it’s a beautiful introspective listen…with a few well placed rockers in there as well.
Written by: Jackie Lo
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