Gentle Friendly - Ride Slow

Despite the dark, often brooding sounds used in the record, there’s still a warmth and intimacy that shines through.

Rating: 9

The whole cycle of hype around a band or a musician can get very tiring very quickly, especially in the modern age. The frequency that bands fall in and out of fashion is alarming, and the crowds of overly-eager hipsters desperate to move onto the next cool thing is growing and picking up pace. Such is the ferocity that bands such as No Age are considered absolute veterans after two albums and a few EPs – Times New Viking feel positively archaic. Noise-pop is a genre that is losing it’s edge day by day as an increasing number of good bands come along to fill the scene. It takes a band with such raw aptitude as Gentle Friendly.

After receiving massively positive reviews for their 4-track EP ‘Night Tapes’ the band have since focused their attentions on a long player, and the result is an absolute triumph. In ‘Ride Slow’ they manage to show the kind of subtlety and nous that have eluded many people who’ve tried their hand at the noise genre, creating something with an almost imperceptible depth to it. To call it simply noise-pop would be an insult and incredibly short sighted - the album changes its sights from song to song, consistently altering the listener’s expectations.

The list of influences upon this record is predictably lengthy. There’s a heavy hint of Los Angeles’ The Smell on here from the obvious all encompassing shadow of No Age to the androgynous vocals that HEALTH centre their work around. If you look around, there’s something from pretty much anything you might imagine but one of the many things that set the band apart is amount of personality that ‘Ride Slow’ holds. Though sampling is an easy and helpful tool, the band have abandoned that in favour of doing everything as ‘live’ - using effect boxes and tape loops, and it shows. Despite the dark, often brooding sounds used in the record, there’s still a warmth and intimacy that shines through.

It’s a release that ebbs and flows perfectly. The biggest compliment that one can pay it is that the second that it’s over, there’s an urge to listen to it again. It’s dreamy in some ways, and for long periods it drifts into the noise genre, but it’s not like anything that’s come before it. It’s brash but tender, heavy but filled with soul and pop - an utter contradiction, completely unique and brilliant.

It’s almost a crime that more people haven’t heard about them, especially in this musical climate. Comparisons to the radio-friendly tones of The Big Pink are likely, but this record has more depth than the dull repetitive fodder of ‘A Brief History Of Love’. It’s sad that of the two it’s plain to see which one is destined to shift more copies. But it’s Gentle Friendly who should certainly end up towards the top of the album of the years chart. A truly superb debut and one we can only hope is built upon.