In 2001, England's Airport Girl released their debut album, Honey, I'm an Artist, which was a fairly upbeat record, full of jangling guitars. They've finally unleashed their sophomore LP, Slow Light, a collection of downbeat, melancholy songs that is at once more mature, a memorable recording that requires repeated listening.
Slow Light is bursting with downtempo pop songs. The sound is very much akin to The Go-Betweens, Belle and Sebastian, and Felt, who are all listed as influences on the band's MySpace page.
Singer Rob Price has a voice that lies in both the background and the foreground. His soft, grumbly vocals are rarely raised above their slightly muted level yet they somehow suit the music very well. "There's a Crisis in your Past" is a jangly song that tastefully features cello and violin. The cadence is slow and melancholy is the mood of the track. Lyrically, themes of changing seasons and regret are evoked. Mournfully, Price repeats the lines, "There has to be a way now/There has to be a way." It's a great way to start the album.
"Hold Me Through the Night" has that same quality of sorrowful catchiness, as does "Don't Let Me Down Again." The latter sounds like it could have been an out-take from The Go-Betweens' final album, Oceans Apart, without sounding like a blatant rip off. "The Weather Song" has a Spanish sounding acoustic guitar introduction and also includes the addition of some funereal sounding trumpet before the pace picks up and a the guitar assumes an early Modern Lovers type of rhythm. It is pop, but this is real pop music that is sad and inspired, not the typical indie rock sort that is mainly dull and immemorable.
Airport Girl, like their influences, may not be immediately striking, but the songwriting is top notch and Slow Light has lasting power. The more the songs are played, the better they become. They have a European sound to them, full of beauty, maturity, and class. One can only hope that they continue to create music of this caliber.