For my money R51 are one of the real ‘hopes for the future’ of local music: Hell, UK music. Really. For ones still so young they have an amazing self-confidence in what they are doing, and no matter what style of song they record, it is done with such care, attention and belief, that is impossible not to be impressed. There is nothing obvious, nothing piggybacking on the latest trend, nothing that gives you even the slightest feeling of ‘oh, heard that all before’. That is a real strength, I believe, in a world of music which is becoming so homogenised (boring) at the top of the charts and so splintered beneath that. This is a band that could really stand out, or at least straddle more than one small sub-genre. They are modern but with classic influences.
‘Slowhound’ itself is, naturally enough, a slowburner of a song that does take a few listens to get into. It bears all the now-classic R51 hallmarks of shoe-gaze guitar, mixed with modern beats and sequencing, all topped of with Melyssa Shannon’s Kate Bush-esque vocals; vocals that are fragile, yet with an inner strength and confidence about them. It perhaps isn’t as catchy/immediate as the previous single, ‘Boxkite’, or as jaw-droppingly experimental as Boxkite’s ‘B-side’ – ‘I Could Kill You Sometimes’, but it is a classy song nevertheless. ‘Slowhound’ is backed with the beautifully wistful ‘Skelf’ (love the title). To call ‘Skelf’ merely an acoustic song does not do it justice. R51 always manage to add little sprinkles of stardust to lift it out of the ordinary, even for a track less than two-and-a-half minutes long.
If R51 stay on this trajectory, there is only one way they are headed. Upwards.