Blasting on to the scene in 2014 with the brilliant EP Sugar Coated Bitter Truth, Slaves quickly make came a huge name with their bolshy and amusing rock tunes. It’s been somewhat of a turbulent ride recently, receiving a significant backlash to comments they made about gender representation at festivals. In our interview with the boys Laurie claimed a lack of women was like “…saying there aren’t many ginger people”.
Debut LP Are you satisfied? didn’t strike the same chord, the humor was overdone and the initial buzz disappeared very quickly. Now just a year later Laurie and Isaac are back with a follow up titled Take Control. Opener Spit It Out is almost identical to Where’s Your Car Debbie?, opening with a sinister and repetitive guitar riff before charging into a flurry of cockney screams and thumping drums. While the guitar sound does feel far denser, now packing a real punch, it’s got the lyrical complexity of a nursery rhyme.
Take Control takes a slightly more garage-punk sound that does work in the Tunbridge-wells duos favour. It does feel as though Slaves hit their stride when performing at their rawest, with less of an emphasis on making people laugh. People That You Meet is a four minute snooze fest of chugging guitars and lyrics about strange encounters. Things take an unexpected emotional turn in Steer Clear as Baxter Drury sings “Please Don’t Kill Yourself Behind That Steering Wheel”, over a drum beat that wouldn’t sound out of place on an The XX record.
Throughout the album you can’t help but feel the initial excitement that stemmed from their unique drum kit setup and solo guitar player is what draws them back. Everything feels far too familiar and for a band taking somewhat of a stance against Mr Industry, they’ve sold on their success by using the exact same formula that skyrocketed them to fame. There’s no progression and no risk, the only notable difference is a lacklustre feature from the legendary Mike D of Beastie Boys. The skits make the whole thing feel more like a cartoon show than an album from two grown men with actual musical talent. It’s a 16 track flurry that never really finds its feet and spends most of time sounding like a series of off-cuts from their debut.
Words by Jack Winstanley