SLO-MO Death Of A Raver (Circus)
With at least one NME journalist and Garbage's Butch Vig already smitten, a contract with the label currently bringing some immaculately presented Go-Betweens reissues to the world and a few remixes by Soft Cell, of all people, in their armoury, I'm sure I should think more of Slo-Mo's music than I do. Certainly this debut single is inventive, with the narcotic samba of an Astrid Gilberto sample battling against what sounds like a heavy metal cover of Portishead's "Glory Box" and lyrics wagging a stern finger at a generation of chemical casualties, but it doesn't quite click. Equally, "Violent Misdemeanors" should be brilliant - think of a half-speed version of Tricky's "Brand New You're Retro" morphed with Pulp's "Sorted For E's And Wizz" - nevertheless, it's all a bit 1995, isnt it? Even the Soft Cell remix of the main attraction follows the template established by the duo's recent post-reformation work, being bouncy but rather characterless. Maybe Slo-Mo need the space of an album to impress properly - one has already been recorded. At the moment they've got potential, hopefully not all of it yet realised.
SLO-MO Slo-Mo (Circus)
Arriving a year after their "Death Of A Raver" single, Sheffield quartet Slo-Mo's eponymous debut is all rather Guy Ritchie meets Pulp meets Soft Cell meets easy listening revival meeting meets Danny Boyle. It sounds desperately mid/late 90s, the bare light bulb of the cover photograph shedding too little much-needed light on a black and white world. Liberally peppered with Stan Getz and Astrid Gilberto samples, it nevertheless packs about as much second-hand exoticism as Black Box Recorder on a Film Studies course.
Take the aforementioned "Death Of A Raver" single, for example. Pulp's "Sorted For E's And Whizz" handles similar subject matter with far greater eloquence, and doesn't invoke wistful feelings for old Smiths songs into the bargain. "Lost Stones" is blessed with a tantalising introduction that few bands would struggle to follow up convincingly with a song to match, and surprisingly Slo-Mo don't fall as short of the mark as they might have done, fashioning a supple thing that, for once, doesn't have to shoulder the burden of some not strikingly original influences.
Unfortunately any good feeling it generates is instantly squandered by "Girl From Alaska", which references Uma Thurman and "Get Shorty" in the first line: see also "Car Accident Joe" (drawing heavily on "Crash"), "Junkie On A Fast Train" ("Trainspotting") and "Boy From A City" (the third series of "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet"). And this constant pop culture thievery is unfortunate, because when Slo-Mo abandon it in pursuit of something more personal and heartfelt the results are winning: "Short Stories" features David J Gledhill's most upholstered swooning croon and lush, if synthetic, velveteen music, all rather wasted on the tongue-in-cheek sequence of "And finally " scattershot snapshots that constitute its lyrics. "Tell Them I Had A Good Time" stands as the album's bestest bit, a rain-washed epic that comes on a bit like a blundering Hollywood remake of The Smiths' majestic "I Won't Share You" - not necessarily a bad thing, incidentally - apparently written about a girlfriend gripped by a terminal illness. It's moments such as this, when Slo-Mo (more specifically writer/arranger/producer/singer/one-man-band Gledhill) aren't blatantly demonstrating how much time they've spent down the multiplex during the last decade, that are closest to effective, and worth pursuing.