The third album by Sheffield twosome Slow Club continues the British duo's expansion from agents of winsome folk-pop to evolved romantics with a set of torchy songs and break-up ballads that exude the moody spark of classic Northern Soul. It's a long way from the sweet acoustic tales of young love and bouncy, Spector-ish pop of their 2009 debut Yeah, So? It's a sound they flirted with on 2011's more confident follow-up Paradise, but it's delivered here on Complete Surrender with more subtlety and aplomb thanks to producer and Richard Hawley co-conspirator Colin Elliot. The band is comprised of singers and multi-instrumentalists Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson who, in the past, have let their songs wander freely with either a minimalist acoustic guitar/vocal arrangement or an all-in electric, garage rock whomp. With Elliot's help, Complete Surrender becomes the fine-tuned successor that dials in on their strengths, which in this care are Taylor's strong voice and the duo's improved songcraft. Standouts of Slow Club's new sound, like the bluesy ballads "The Queen's Nose" and "Not Mine to Love," balance a sleek, cool maturity with subtle doses of their endearing, raw charm. The Northern Soul influence is most apparent on the witchy send-up "Suffering You, Suffering Me," whose yearning intro quickly picks up into a classic, horn-laden, '60s-inspired dance/soul number. Watson gets his licks in too, singing lead on the slow-building "Everything Is New," which boasts a wild crescendo of stacked vocals, strings, and filthy guitar tones. The flame dims a bit near the album's end, but plays out on a strong note with the more contemporary-sounding "Wanderer Wandering," a catchy ballad that pairs rich synths with dreamy trumpet to great effect. Complete Surrender shows that Taylor and Watson are willing to stretch out and continue their evolution as they deliver a strong third outing.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger