‘New Monsters‘, the new album by Slow Runner was quite simply a joy to listen to. An album in the traditional sense of the word. Take ‘Pet Sounds‘ or ‘Rumours‘. They sound like albums should. Filled with songs are that are written for the sake of the song. Songs that are sequenced right and filled with the highs of life and the lows of death. Albums that are meant to mean something; That is what we are looking at here – And what a gem ‘New Monsters’ is to journey through.
Mostly unfamiliar with the Charleston, South Carolina based band consisting of singer/songwriter Michael Flynn and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler, I was first captivated by what I thought was going to be pop record based around gospel and that intriguing mystery that is the Deep South. But I was immediately wrong- This was just the first song. ‘My Love Will Bring You Back‘ with it’s gospel handclaps to piano lament segues into the 16-bit electro energy of ‘Me+1+1‘.
Once again we a taken into a different direction with the bassy sexual nu-blues that is the title track ‘New Monsters‘. Beautifully crafted, the instrumentation swells in and out of the tension and the playful, perhaps a good metaphor for the album itself, segueing effortlessly between the dark and light, the moody and the joyful- as the chorus calls: “…A creature that needs new monsters“. Each track is indeed a new monster, each mouldered by a master.
For me the song that brought the meticulous songwriting together; the self-made beats, the fuzz bass, the playful keyboard sounds and angular guitars is the song ‘When We’re Clouds‘. Beautiful haunting chord progressions on innocent keyboard sounds and reversed bell twinkles that wouldn’t sound out of place on Pet Sounds.
I imagine Josh Kaler is a prolific songwriter and had to whittle down ‘New Monsters‘ to it’s ten strong tales from a much larger list of songs. He chose them well whatever the case and there is no question that this band’s strength is to sniff out a fantastic melody and know exactly where it should sit upon the most wonderful arrangement you’ve ever heard.
‘New Monsters‘ is out now.