There was a sense, when Slow Club released their last record, in the summer of 2016, that they were ready for a break. ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More’ was designed as a deliberately subdued counterpoint to their previous LP, the glossy pop blitz ‘Complete Surrender’, but there’s a difference between sounding pleasantly sleepy and outright tired and the latter applied to the Sheffield duo that time ‘round. Since, they’ve subdued their own projects, with Rebecca Taylor’s Self Esteem creative outlet gradually morphing into a fully-fledged solo venture and Charles Watson going down the same route with his debut release under his own name, ‘Now That I’m a River’.
It’s a quietly experimental affair that allows him to branch out into instrumental territory that wouldn’t suit Slow Club. What Charles has done here is flirt with the woozy stylings of Wild Nothing and Youth Lagoon on the title track and ‘Love Is Blue’, while there’s a touch of psych to the synth stylings of standouts ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Abandoned Buick’, both of which add some subtle distortion to his vocals to suit the mood.
It’s when he’s on this kind of enterprising form that the album really soars, which has you wondering whether the relatively by-numbers last couple of tracks, ‘Everything Goes Right’ and ‘Tapestry’ were strictly necessary. Fans of ‘Complete Surrender’’s sonic diversity, too, might find ‘Now That I’m a River’ similarly one-note to ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More’. It’s a better record, though, primarily because Charles sounds genuinely refreshed.