Two years on from their first release, Melbourne’s Slow Fades have returned with their second EP, featuring a sound that is both refined and evolved, but no less accessible than their previous work.
The first time that Aussie music fans were first made aware of Slow Fades was back in 2018 when the group – consisting of members of underrated ’90s and ’00s outfit Klinger – announced their arrival, and consequently, the release of their debut EP, Canyon Songs. A charming release which showcased the group’s eclectic musicianship, and adept songwriting, the EP sadly flew under the radar of most music aficionado – the truest definition of a shame.
However, those who were lucky enough to witness the band’s launch show were treated to an array of tracks, both recorded and unreleased at the time. The majority of these unreleased songs, though unknown to most at the time, would go on to make up most of the group’s recently-released second EP, Passing Headlights Blinking.
First teased by way of lead single “This City Is Sinking” back in September, it was clear that this EP wasn’t simply set to be a continuation of what Slow Fades had created with Canyon Songs, rather it was on track to serve as something of an evolution of the sound that they had already established – not merely improved upon, but refined and tended to in a way that realises the full potential of the band itself.
The aforementioned lead single served as a perfect introduction to the EP, with its origins found in a unifying tragedy experienced by the group’s hometown of Melbourne, and later augmented by the events of 2020.
“We started writing the song two years ago, when Sisto Malaspina from Pellegrini’s was tragically killed and Melbourne was hurting,” explained singer and guitarist Ben Birchall. “And with the multiple lockdowns this year, the city is hurting just as badly. The song has developed second and third meanings.”
Undoubtedly a prescient track that finds an audience in its relatable subject matter, the rest of the EP is no less immersive and welcoming, with the exceptional songwriting of the group one of the release’s finest qualities. Whether it’s the effortless pop hooks of “Take Your Time”, the emotional realities of “Hard on Love”, or the nostalgic familiarity of closing track “(After The) After The Crash”, there is something truly special in ever facet of these tracks.
Ultimately, the record itself is one that – given the history of the band’s members, and Slow Fades’ 2018 EP – feels ever so familiar, yet with the marked individuality that allows it to stand alone. While Canyon Songs was – by the band’s own admission – borne out of ’70s FM rock and Laurel Canyon, Passing Headlights Blinking sees the acclaimed songwriting of Birchall and multi-instrumentalist Dave Rogers finding more inspiration by way of the fertile Melbourne indie-rock scene from which the band’s members flourished in the ’90s.
Add in the deft rhythms of drummer Darren Vlah (Glorious North, Klinger), the subtle-yet-effective bass of Glenn Arnup (Barebones, Duke Batavia), and the exceptional keys of newly-minted member Amy Bennett (Second Prize, D.Rogers), and the result is arguably one of the finest EPs not only released this year, but in the careers of the band members themselves.
As something of a bonus for fans who may feel hard done by the events of this year, and an inability to witness the group launch this EP in the traditional manner, Slow Fades have also unleashed a series of music videos for each of the tracks included on their EP.
Unable to even shoot a music video in the usual way, the six clips have been created using stock footage and a knowledge of iMovie, and are available to view now via the group’s YouTube channel.