Despite often being pigeonholed and labeled as “twee,” it’s been clear throughout The Pastels’ career that there’s a lot more going on than cursory listening may suggest. Looking at frontman Stephen McRobbie’s list of favorite records clearly confirms this. Additionally, when you consider the band’s decisions to collaborate with Japanese experimental pop artists such as Tenniscoats and Maher Shalal Hash Baz, it becomes especially apparent that even the sweetest moments of The Pastels' records are full of subtle complexity/experimentation in their arrangements, lyrics, and production.
The band's latest album Slow Summits is in many ways one of the group's most complete statements in terms of their dedication to merging loftier aesthetic decisions with pop simplicity. The band chose to work with the like-minded John McEntire (Tortoise) as a producer, and as a result, the whole album has the wonderful feel of many of the iconic 90s-00s chamber pop records that McEntire helmed. Particularly remarkable is the band's use of space throughout the album. Slow Summits is filled with the same kind of room sound that Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Arthur Russell's First Thought, Best Thought album strive to capture.
"Check Your Heart" is one of the most immediately infectious tracks off of Slow Summits. It initially comes off as a simple paean to young love, but when McRobbie's vocals enter, it becomes obvious that this is a subtle song about the passage of time and regret/nostalgia experienced from schoolboy infatuations. Like the track's underlying message and The Pastels' work in general, "Check Your Heart's" music video may initially seem like a cutesy montage of the band, a dance party, and children running, but when taken together, these images reflect the same wistful sentiments about time passing and love that the song's lyrics project.
You can watch the video for “Check Your Heart” above. Slow Summits is out now via Domino.