EP Review: Slow Joy – ‘Mi Amigo Slow Joy’

Posted: by The Editor

When Esteban Flores says writing music as Slow Joy is therapeutic, he means it literally. The project began as an outlet for processing his grief over his mother’s passing at his therapist’s urging, but it’s grown larger in the four years since. His earliest releases under the name, the two-track Raw Emotion single and the Soft Slam EP that includes those songs, paired one more aggressive, explosive track with a softer, more timid one; on last year’s Wildflower EP he committed to the louder end of the spectrum, and he hones that sound further on his upcoming EP Mi Amigo Slow Joy.

Flores frequently references alternative giants Pixies and Nirvana as influences, and both bands’ quiet-loud tension is clearly present in Slow Joy’s fuzz rock; all four of these songs follow roughly the same structure, quiet verses and huge, aching choruses. Each individual track does enough within that framework that it doesn’t feel rote (and the sub-fifteen-minute runtime helps). Opener “4U” begins with smoldering intensity and only gains power from there, Flores’ murmurs of “do it for you” gradually shifting into wails, a technique he repeats later on “King Cowboy,” with an even bigger gulf between the volume of each successive chorus until his voice is hoarse. It’s the only song on the EP where his voice alone is the focal point as opposed to the guitars, suggesting a possible path forward less reliant on layers of feedback.

“King Cowboy” was the project’s second single, a great song, but it’s unfortunately overshadowed by lead single “Pulling Teeth,” which immediately precedes it in the tracklist. It’s a straight-up anthem, built around a genuinely infectious hook and twisty, warbling guitar lines that call back to Slow Joy’s more shoegaze-inspired roots. The song would be as at home on a playlist between Momma and Modern Color as on the radio between the latest Bad Omens and Foo Fighters songs fighting for alt-rock chart dominance (although, look, it’s better than both, especially “Just Pretend).

“Lay Me Out, I’m Out of My Mind,” too, throws back to the dreamier days of early Slow Joy with its washy guitar shimmers; it’s a nice synthesis of everything Flores has done under this name in the way it bends that gauziness into a soaring rock song. It’s a perfect note to close Mi Amigo Slow Joy out on–and it might be his very best song yet. It’s nearly four minutes long, the longest Slow Joy track to date, and it gives Flores a lot of time to spread his wings and blur the lines between his two modes. If it’s a sign of things to come, Slow Joy might soon actually be sharing airspace with Bad Omens and Foo Fighters.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Mi Amigo Slow Joy is out June 7th.

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

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