The Pastels, Slow Summits
Indiepop pioneers pick up right where they left off
“Indiepop” is a genre with many parents, but there’s good reason that Glasgow’s the Pastels tend to be of the first names to come up in discussions of its lineage. Led from the beginning — 1982 — by Stephen McRobbie, aka Stephen Pastel, the group’s output has been rickety and tender, as homemade as a patchwork quilt and as fuzzy as a cardigan. They play rock-by-name that doesn’t necessarily rock-by-design — better suited to hanging your head than banging it — a sound and style so set in stone they’d have to go full-on brostep in order to surprise their fan base.
Luckily, their first album since 1997′s Illumination doesn’t do that. Slow Summits picks right up where the band’s earlier work left off. Sure, there’s a lot of guest help: a couple Teenage Fanclubbers (Gerard Love and Norman Blake) and a couple of To Rococo Rots (Stefan Schneider and Ronald Lippok), most notably. But you won’t mistake it for anyone but the Pastels: Hazy, glistening, and beguilingly filled out with subdued but rich winds and guitars. “Summer Rain,” the album’s centerpiece, is a perfect example, a murmured melody winding slowly in on itself, growing lovelier as the overdubs pile gently on.