ROMANTIC by Slow Hollows
Genre: Indie Rock
Favourite Tracks: “Romantic,” “Hopsital Flowers,” “Last Dance”
Austin Feinstein knotted his eyebrows up, sad blue eyes settling intently on a spot far beyond the audience. With a charisma far past his 18 years, thin frame, and impossibly large, pained eyes, Feinstein immediately conjured up the image of a tortured artist. This archetype was instantly broken between songs with smiles and jokes, reminding the listener that these are teenagers playing music: They just so happen to have the charisma, talent, and aesthetic to find success in their new record ROMANTIC. Released on Danger Collective Records, ROMANTIC is a jazzy, nine-track album full of tender trumpets and gloomy lyrics: “The love we feel / is fueled by nothing / it’s all nothing.”
Feinstein’s low, deep voice has a gravity and weight that betrays his teenage years, one with a certain apathetic fullness. The sound of Slow Hollows is clean, void of the distortion typically found in lo-fi indie bands. ROMANTIC is layered with crisp horns and remotely familiar chord progressions. These songs are confidently crafted to echo vague angst, an articulation of the empty feeling in one’s chest. The album is a poesy lovelorn collection of pathos, and of course, a romanticization of the tortured artist archetype. Despite the rosy title, this is not a love album, but the glamorization of all things glum and depressing until they become mystical and alluring, somehow tragically beautiful all the while.
This melancholy record inches its way to musical and emotional maturity. A florid gloom is the motif through each song. Some numbers are entirely or mostly void of all lyrics, such as “4141″ and “Luxury of Lull,” yet are instrumental in linking the album together. These numbers showcase the musical talents of Slow Hollows, diving into intricate chord progressions and tonal shifts.
ROMANTIC feels more like a concept record than a collection of singles. The choice to include trumpet and sax shows remarkable maturity in experimentation — “Again” exemplifies their use of jazz instrumentation. The record plays more like a dreamy cinema soundtrack, the band young and blasé, artfully lighting cigarettes and sipping black coffee. Feinstein’s lyrics are remarkably mature and convey a deep message, yet are vague enough not to be pretentious. “Make it stop, it’s all nothing,” he pleads softly, words backed up by brass, delicately wistful baselines sprinkled throughout. ROMANTIC is the kind of record you listen to on a slow morning, when you can see the light filter through your blinds. This is the kind of music that reminds you of soft sheets and forlorn gazes. It’s a retrospective of unrequited teenage love through rubicund pain. Perhaps songs could be a bit more varied, but this creates a signature sound of slower retrospective memoirs.
“Hospital Flowers” is a song I distinctly remember hearing live at Beach Goth. Feinstein’s stage presence and experience struck me as highly developed. Seeing a gathering of teenagers singing along to, “Does it feel wrong to you / Does it feel right to me at all?” was a promising nod to the band’s future popularity. “Romantic” ends the album, and with its intricate build of instruments, it is easily the best song of the record. ROMANTIC is easy listening and extremely enjoyable, a sad insight to the glorified pain of tortured artists and lovelorn creativity.
When I saw Slow Hollows at Beach Goth, the band rushed to fit in three more songs in the five minutes they had left. Feinstein carefully scanned the crowd after some of the bloody mishaps earlier in the festival, “I’m so glad I can see each of you and make sure you’re okay.” Immediately, the band endeared themselves to me, and I knew to keep an eye on the young musicians who so naturally commanded the room. For a band who has yet to reach their 20s, ROMANTIC is a promising, expressive record sprinkled with emotional insight and starry-eyed instrumental solos. It’s a record you’ll wish you had for that post-prom melancholy to soothe the empty feeling in your chest.