Depending on where in the country you are, St. Leonards is either a bustling hub of coffee shops and skyscrapers in a cluttered North Sydney (and, fun fact, where the Australian Guitar HQ is situated), or a cute ‘n’ quaint beach town about a half hour east of Geelong. The debut album from local pop-rockers Slowly Slowly is named after the latter, and it makes perfect sense: 13 tracks of pure summery bliss à la riff, it’s the exact kind of record you’d want to pop on your Bluetooth speaker when you first dig your toes into the sand.
To blatantly rob from its press release, the LP is strewn all over in striking imagery and vibrant metaphors, frontman Ben Stewart painting a vivid picture of his personal conflicts with lyrics that cut deep and sting long after the last notes have rung out. Clean fretwork drenches his musings, a hearty Telecaster strum painting tracks like “Ten Leaf Clover” and “Alchemy” with searing energy, while acoustic noodling brings a homely atmosphere to “Christmas Lights” and “The Butcher’s Window”.
There’s a distinct emo flourish that buries itself on St. Leonards, but therein lies its biggest pitfall: Slowly Slowly can’t decide whether they’re up to lead the push on emo’s fourth generation, or join the ranks of arena-dwelling pop acts, and as a result, so many of their tracks toe the line where they never quite reach either realm entirely. Nonetheless, there are plenty of anthemic jams to steer your attention in a positive direction. St. Leonards is a fun album, and one well worth cranking the portable stereo for.
Review by Matt Doria