B-Town might well be a distant memory to most, even laughed at by those thought to be at the centre of the sound that gave the Midlands some sunshine over a year ago. The fact that some of those bands are now on their second album is a testament to the fact the scene meant nothing but the music said something.
One band that caught the tail end of said scene were JAWS, a suitably jangly four piece who stirred up enough attention to sell out their debut EP, twice. A little over a year later, the band have segued slightly away from the swimmy sounds that became synonymous with B-Towns tropicana, moving in to moodier territory for their debut that, nevertheless, isn’t without a certain degree of sunshine.
Fans of the band will be familiar with some of the already-released material on here but that doesn’t mean it lacks any of its original impact. Tracks such as ‘Gold’ and ‘Surround You’ are still excellent; the latter formed around a balance of acerbic synth chords and glossy electronic hooks. It’s simple, but it’s effective and it’s easy to see why the band went with this as a preceding single.
The dream-poppy vibe perpetuated by a portion of Be Slowly’s tracks might well appear, at least on initial listens, somewhat ephemeral, the genre itself almost being built around transience. But there are certain tracks that provide a weight to the record, keeping its airy aesthetic well and truly grounded. Take the aforementioned ‘Gold’ for instance, or ‘Filth’ which starts innocuously before exploding into a cacophony of crunchy guitars and angelic vocal harmonies.
Then there’s the tracks which seem to fuse both aesthetics together, morphing each track in to a summery, shoegaze amalgam that crackles and drones in all that right places, whilst gliding effortlessly, even lazily, towards their respective conclusions. ‘Sunset State’ for instance, is a track hard to imagine conceived in the relative metropolis that is Birmingham, such is its tropical feel, whilst ‘Home’ descends almost in to the realms of post-punk and is easily the darkest track on the record.
Given JAWS affiliation with the bands I had assumed (in some cases wrongly) were just a flash in the pan, I’d also dismissed JAWS as just being a band of the moment. Be Slowly blew any misconceptions I had about them out the water, and is quite possibly one of the best debuts I’ve heard all year.
The record’s ability to juxtapose upbeat summer jangles with shoegaze breakdowns far belies the band’s relatively young age. Whilst the likes of Peace and Swim Deep have certainly made a name for themselves over the last 12 months, it seems JAWS have released a record that suggestions a sustainability to their song-writing that will keep them relevant long after their peers fade away.