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Slow Fiction’s clear-eyed “Apollo” mission

23 January 2024, 12:00 | Written by Steve Forstneger

One-year after their debut self-titled EP, the New York indie band realises that flying toward the sun can be blinding

When naming its new single, Slow Fiction gravitated toward the same deity that Nasa did in the 1960s but for slightly different reasons. The United States’ space agency boldly sought to place humans among their gods, seeking to become masters of their universe. Slow Fiction, however, wants to peg us back and open our eyes to the reality that people are only flesh and blood: unworthy of worship whether one lands on the moon or idealises a lover.

“Apollo is the god of sunlight and poetry,” the band notes. The title comes from “perhaps realizing that a person is not a god–without them you can still exist, create, and have a voice”. Another fact worth noting: falling in love was Apollo’s achilles heel, so to speak.

On 2023’s self-titled/self-released EP, Slow Fiction lovingly revived their hometown from 20-years earlier. Distorted, open chords and post-punk guitar melodies recalled The Walkmen, French Kicks, Natural History, and–to a lesser degree–The Strokes, while singer Julia Vassallo walked a Karen O. line between stilettos-on-broken-glass and subway-station heartbreak. “Apollo”, which was released by So Young Records, represents a geographical shift while staying in the same time period.

Adjusting her tone to reflect a shoulda-known vulnerability, the guitars and drums follow Vassallo to the early emo of the American Midwest and such bands as Sarge (later The Reputation), Rainer Maria, and The Promise Ring. The ambience changes as well from a loft rehearsal space to a cramped basement. Beneath the band’s East Coast facade sits unadorned frustration and regret: the angst over hitching our dreams to someone just as flawed.

Vassallo tries to disillusion herself and sings, “I always thought that I knew how to sing/but you wrote the notes so I don’t know anything.” Too late, however. “I’m standing in the doorway of someone else but I want to go home ‘cause I should be by myself…I’m standing in the doorway of my own house I don’t want to go inside ‘cause then I’ll be by myself.”

"Apollo" is out now, and their sophomore EP is set for release in May 2024. Follow Slow Fiction on Instagram.

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