Release Date: Sep 30, 2016
Record label: Virgin EMI
Genre(s): Punk, Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave
Let’s start out by saying I find a lot of the anger around Slaves more than baffling. Maybe it’s just my own little Twitter echo chamber but it seemed a great number of people found quite a lot to dislike about the thrilling, though admittedly somewhat basic and raw, debut from the duo. A Mercury nomination probably didn’t help matters but people appeared extra keen to stick the boot in with this particular example.
It should come as no surprise that the second half suffers for its subdued pace; after all, Slaves are fashioned around the idea of being abrasive, not insightful. Take Control also features its fair share of forgettable numbers, such as "Fuck the Hi-Hat," which sounds like it was recorded accidently by a rogue studio mike. However, trying to differentiate from their debut comes down to splitting hairs, owing much to the short amount of time separating the two.
It’s kind of inevitable that rock bands will decide to use their platform to voice their dissatisfaction with the world. In many respects, this can be something of a double-edged sword: if an album is determined to be too preachy, then the band risks alienating its fanbase. Similarly, it’s difficult to become a serious political band overnight. You don’t necessarily have to be espousing Chomsky-level critiques of capitalism, but you do have to have something worthwhile to say.
Everything you needed to know about Slaves’ debut LP Are You Satisfied? was spelled out in its confrontational title. It set out to question modern British society and the status quo, while also acting as a rabble-rousing call to arms. This intention was most fully realised in the biting cynicism of Cheer Up London, which was the Tunbridge Wells duo’s attack on the competitive daily struggle for wealth in England’s capital.
Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman of Slaves are a post-ironic punk band; their modus operandi being that if you’re a pair of millennials from Royal Tunbridge Wells (or, indeed, from the 21st century in pretty much any capacity) you cannot seriously attempt to re-create the genre without seeming anodyne or pointlessly derivative. So they don’t. Instead, their debut album, 2015’s Are You Satisfied?, saw the duo deploy punk tropes with equal amounts of archness and genuine enthusiasm.
Slaves’ second album Take Control begins with some advice for anyone disgruntled at their lot in life. Amid the jabbing crunch of frantically building guitars, stand-up drummer and vocalist Isaac Holman, snarls his way through the opening chorus in furious rejection of the status quo: “Sucking on a sour sweet, Blisters on your tongue…Spit it out.” A year after the release of their debut Are You Satisfied?, it's clear the punk duo aren't stumbling on inner peace anytime soon. Unbridled rage isn't something you hear a lot of on mainstream radio yet Isaac and guitarist Laurie Vincent, two mischievous, tattooed, fashion-savvy lads from Kent have made the jump from dirty pubs to BBC Radio 1 A-list with ease.
There is some filler, however. ‘Consume Or Be Consumed’, which features Mike D rapping, is underwritten and slight. STD’s/PHD’s’ is a dirge-like mix of lumbering synth and drum machine. Still, Laurie and Isaac deserve props for such an uncompromising album. They’re both massive Mike D ….
Despite a jam-packed September, I can't help noticing how Carl and I ended up a little bit underwhelmed with many of the albums we reviewed this month. But since both of us got to cover most of our favorites on full-length form, it only makes sense this month's choices are mostly solid, but ….