The Pastels – Slow Summits (Domino)
May 29, 2013 by Fran Jolley
The Scottish duo Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell have been hanging around the outer circle of the British indie scene for over four decades, influencing a sea of bands including Belle n Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Their latest album ‘Slow Summits’ had quite a lot of promise on the strength of their latest single ‘Check My Heart’ . But after nearly 16 years of waiting for a new album, does it deliver?
The Pastels’ sound has blossomed over the past thirty years, always melodic but constantly shifting with arrangements and style. ‘Slow Summits’ is more of a low key approach and with the added collaborations of people like Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and John McEntire (Tortoise) The Pastels fans will certainly not be disappointed. This is an album full of love, soul and melody. Pretty much the reason to full in love with any album. There are the majestic sounds of ‘Kicking Leaves’ and ‘Secret Music’ (both arranged by Craig Armstrong) to the quiet beauty of ‘Summer Rain’.
Though new listeners will maybe need some time to warm to the vocals of McRobbie, it’s amazing how fresh-sounding the lush vocals of Mitchell still sound all these years on. It certainly doesn’t sound like a band out of touch after such a delay. Their hazy mid tempo sound isn’t exactly the most instant of listens. Once the album has drifted through your ears a few times, it begins to fit; repeat listeners will be rewarded with understated splendour.
It’s the perfect album for the return of summer. They still haven’t lost their ear for a melody and it’s nice to hear the originals having their chance to shine once more.