|Album Review: Slow Hollows - Actors|
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LA-based genre-blending alchemists Slow Hollows have just shared their third and most ambitious LP, Actors. Once courted by Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator (Anderson provided his guitar skills to Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy and Cherry Bomb and Frank Ocean’s Endless and Blonde), Slow Hollows is led by Austin Anderson and along with current band members Aaron Jassenoff, Daniel Fox, and Jackson Katz. The band is accountable for two exceptional albums, 2015’s Atelophobia and 2016’s Romantic. These previous efforts found the collective navigating the junctures where post-punk, lo-fi indie, and dream-pop meet. Beyond sonic accents, Anderson displayed a deep knack for lucid, fervent lyrics. With the release of Actors and an upcoming headlining tour, the band is set in motion to become much bigger than the indie-cred accolades bestowed upon them previously by critics and peers.
The record kicks off with the slow burner “Actress.” This jazzy endeavor falls into the space of sophistipop. It’s a good starting to point for Actors as the intro track sets a certain smoky atmosphere to warm up to. After the less-than-two minutes opener comes “You Are Now On Fire.” A previous single, “You Are Now On Fire” is teeming with a certain type of cool rarely witnessed these days in music by delivering purpose with a healthy pulse. The lush track also roams briefly in the indie-R&B space and provides a sexy saxophone bit before returning back into the realm of glistening indie-pop.
The Tyler, the Creator-produced “Heart” is a smoldering track elevating the quartet to new sonic heights. It’s a sultry affair, radiating with crisp productions and indie-R&B tinged inflections. Serving as another single off Actors, Slow Hollows do a grand job with their sonic detours leaving listeners in for an unexpected ride upon first listen. “Young Man” places Slow Hollows on the experimental path with skittish rhythms and intricate productions in the second half of the track. The first half of the track moves with ease as Anderson dives into introspective lyrics teetering on the edges of existentialism.
Arguably the strongest track found on the album is “Two Seasons.” This piano-driven tune is quite exquisite, from its beatific sonic choices to its impassioned storytelling. It breaks away from the piano with lax guitars and chilled-out bass lines. The real beauty is found in the lyrics such as with the repeated line, “do you love me or do you love the feeling?” It’s a universal statement, and one that could find its way into any modern relationship. However, it truly hits home to the vulnerable souls in love for the first time and to those who haven’t felt this way in awhile that makes them even question it to begin with.
On the second half of Actors, Slow Hollows take that sonic detour again with acoustic driven tunes and hazy, experimental endeavors. “Come Back In” is a solid showcase of the band merging nimble guitars, whirling reverb, whispered vocals, and sublime synths to blissful heights. Another dark horse pick for best track is “Blood,” an ethereal display of perfection. It’s spacious and enthralling while the band pilots through sonic clouds of pure wonder. “Blood” is the liveliest song off Actors and a testament that these guys are seasoned musicians at such a young age.
Another past single was “Get Along,” which has this haunting looping sound over and over. It’s kind of transfixing and then comes in Anderson’s mesmerizing vocals to add to the overall effect. It impresses as a beguiling piece to this outstanding album. The penultimate track is the acoustic-driven “Hell.” It was actually released only on YouTube back in 2018, but sounds better than ever. The song pulls at the strings of your heart, being both an intimate and warm. Anderson has a Jeff Buckley vibe here with his vocal delivery and lyrical choices. “Hell” is yet another sonic detour for Actors, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. The final track is “Heart (Reprise)” which is a stripped down version of the song. While both tracks here are stellar, the reprise rendition feels more emotional as you journey along with it.
Slow Hollows flex every sonic muscle to create a euphoric LP teeming with beauty and profound reflection. The release of Actors attests to the fact that Slow Hollows are well beyond their youthful years. However, and more importantly so, the record proves that the collective expresses much empathy and intimacy that’s often lacking in modern genre-blending music.
Actors, like its title, feel like a series of different characters with each track representing someone or something in one’s life. Pair that with the sonic diversions and the swift changing of lanes throughout its entirety, the album is a great representation of life itself. While it’s a deep exploration of intricate, genre-less productions, the real discovery behind Actors is its attentive examination of the worries, concerns, and uncertainties of living. It’s an album that will consume every fiber of your body and soul if you welcome it with an open mind and heart.