On Facebook my high school girlfriend recently posted our old prom photos. Horrifying. Prom photos should only be deployed as a method of torture. Thankfully, I heard Slow Hand's latest track the next day and felt much better: with titles "The Formal" and "Belle of the Ball," awkward artwork and the A-side's playfully seductive air, Slow Hands produces a whiff of John Hughes-ian teen nostalgia, which as anyone who's watched Pretty in Pink knows, is a bittersweet fragrance made from innocence, yearning and sexual tension.
"Belle of the Ball" is damn effective—a mid-tempo hip-shaker replete with a great chunky piano riff and slivers of vocoded singing. Those little vocal "ehh oohs" that sound like they're being played on an old sampler are hauntingly catchy. The tune is also mastered loud as hell—super compressed with claps and shakers way up front. The perfect way to play this track at a party would be to suddenly release a horde of pink balloons on the crowd at the same time. On their remix, No Regular Play retain a number of key elements but carefully smooth them down and fill up the space with effects, rendering the tune deeper and more dubbed out.
I can't decide if "Headgear" is another teen reference—indicating another weapon of teenage humiliation, the externally-worn orthodontic device. If so then Slow has gone and turned another adolescent rite of passage into something enticing. Compared to the A-side, the cheese quotient here is approximately twice as high. While "Belle of the Ball" wears its delightfully tacky cruise-ship style with a sense of modesty, "Headgear" has thrown off all tasteful restraint and gone skinny-dipping in goof, brandishing Roy Ayers-ish jazz-funkisms and oversized synth melodies without a care in the world. Graham Hatke's dub sprays delay over the whole thing and calls it a day—perfect if your after-prom is on daddy's yacht.
Buy Slow Hands - The Formal EP at
Tracklist: Slow Hands - The Formal EP 01. Belle Of The Ball
02. Belle Of The Ball (No Regular Play Remix)
04. Headgear (Graham Hatke Dub)