Slow Pulp: Yard (ANTI-) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023  

Slow Pulp



Oct 04, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If something works once, why not try it again? That seems to be the philosophy behind Yard, the sophomore full-length record from Chicago indie band Slow Pulp. Their 2020 debut Moveys was recorded separately due to the constraints of COVID, lead singer Emily Massey’s chronic Lyme disease, and an unexpected car accident. However, that isolation led to some of the band’s most vital work, building up a lush haze of sound that recalled indie touchstones Soccer Mommy and Alex G. Massey recorded vocals with her father Michael, in his home studio, and the process worked so well the band worked with him again on Yard.

In a similar fashion, fans of Moveys should recognize a lot of the same touches running throughout Yard. A penchant for dreamy melodicism, yearning songwriting, and shoegaze-tinged guitars all show up, once again coated in a cozy, sun-dappled haze. It feels like the band are working with many of the same building blocks, yet the end result easily outpaces its predecessor. The production is more layered, the hooks more insistent, the instrumentation more magnetic, and the songwriting more adventurous.

The album encapsulates the band’s style at their most refined, opening with a standout four-track run. After the steady meditative pulse of “Gone 2,” the band moves seamlessly into an impressively catchy lo-fi indie mode for “Doubt” and swings into propulsive garage rock with “Cramps,” all before finally settling into “Slugs,” the band’s muted and sunny version of a summer hit. Though this early run is very much in line with what fans have come to expect from Slow Pulp, it offers a tightly refined version, as do the tracklist’s playful experiments such as the jagged grunge of “Worm” or anthemic pop punk of “MUD.” Whether they are leaning towards emotive ’90s indie touchstones, shaggy shoegaze textures, or raucous sing-alongs, the band play off each other effortlessly, immersing the record in an inviting settled ease.

Interspersed amidst the record are moments where the band pivot inward, putting a spotlight on Massey alone. Isolation, is one of the running themes of the album and several tracks on the record feel akin to an intimate solo performance, such as the rickety saloon piano ballad, “Yard,” or the gorgeous and plaintive closer, “Fishes.” Often, these quieter vignettes find Massey sounding unadorned and unashamed, letting her rougher edges bleed outward in standout vocal performances. Yet in other moments, the band shades her with lush instrumental accents, such as the swelling strings of “Carina Phone 1000” or the loping harmonica, banjo, and pedal steel on “Broadview.”

While traversing these winding turns, the band brings out a warm and impressionistic lyrical sensibility. Massey’s lyrics are occasionally biting or self-deprecating, but often they find her navigating the complexities of loneliness and desire, searching for connection to guide her through. “Gone 2” makes that longing explicit (“I’m living in between feelings/Climb a wall, keep falling down/Hoping it will be different/Raise your hand and pull me out.”), while other times it is masked under upbeat hooks, as with “Doubt.” The latter track finds Massey inviting someone to validate all of her fears and insecurities, confirming all of the worst things we sometimes believe about ourselves. Yet, the record’s final moments offer some assured glimpses of light, as Massey offers a simple reminder of her own worth: “Sink and swim and/Sink it all again/I’ve gotta catch myself this time/Like I know that I’m the prize/Like the fishes/And their winning size.”

Yard is the sort of album that surprises with how simply and fundamentally excellent it is. It doesn’t shock, it invites, making you feel as if you know every corner of the record even on its first play. Though it doesn’t feel overly flashy or expansive, it builds on everything the band have done before and is adventurous in all the right places. With indie rock firmly in its latest shoegaze renaissance, Slow Pulp helps lead the pack with seemingly effortless ease. It’s the sort of warm and instantly familiar album that you will surely find yourself returning to at an unexpected moment. After a few listens, you’ll fall in love. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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