Recently, during our 24 hour charity blogathon in fact, Nicole Atkins’ latest album, Slow Phaser, was streaming in its entirety online. Despite a strong urge, we had to resist the temptation to just sit and listen to it. We knew that if we did, the blogathon would be detrimentally affected as we’d just want to hear it again and again, and as such our writing would dry up. It was a tough choice but one we’re glad we made as not only did we raise a fair chunk of change for Cancer Research but it meant that we could come back to Nicole at a later date and give Slow Phaser the care and attention it deserved.
Now, having spent a few weeks with the album in the lead up to its UK release we know we made the right choice. The ease with which our finger has slipped to repeat and the CD has been left to simply re-start justifies our decision to wait until the Blogathon was complete before listening properly. There is so much on offer in Atkins third full length release that you will want to pour over it, devour and savour each morsel of this feast of musical tapas.
There are styles aplenty, themes and emotions a go go but most of all, throughout the entire album there is an overwhelming sense of creativity, of imagination and of deep shadowy undercurrents. Woven within each aspect there is always sadness, heartache, melancholy and despair. Even on lead single “Girl You Look Amazing”, which is a disco fuelled dance floor filling lightshow of a song, there is the sadness of a wasted life laid bare for all to see.
There’s pop music, indie, folk, disco, a show tune and even a hymn of sorts; each one sounding as confident and as accomplished as the last. “Cool People” and “We Wait Too Long” in particular are infectious little indie-pop numbers, our favourite (still) “Red Ropes” is a film noir and “It’s Only Chemistry” an alt-folk sing-along anthem.
It’s quality song writing, musicianship and storytelling. It’s dark and twisted, light and breezy and mesmeric. It’s Nicole at her best and it’s right up there with the albums of the year so far.
‘Slow Phaser’ is now out in the UK and available to buy on iTunes.