Radio 1 loves them, the internet wants to call them out – but can the Kent duo’s debut album do the business?
Label: Virgin EMI
Released: 1st June 2015
There’s a minimalist approach to making a right ol’ racket that’s been on the rise in British rock of late; we’re talking the Royal Bloods and Drenges. The latest tumult has come from Kent duo Slaves, who have spent the last few years proving that two can be as creative and in-your-face as a full band, and probably have a slicker humour than all of them too.
After opener ‘The Hunter’, their propulsion to radio’s A-List, is ‘Cheer Up London’, melding a slick vocal work over booming and dominant guitars. It’s this duality that is explored particularly well throughout; ‘Sockets’ is a battle between this, where ‘Despair and Traffic’ shifts the focus more on the spoken back-and-forth. There’s only so many ways you can shake up this combination of vocal tenacity and guitar, but they consistently find ways to make it both combative and interesting.
‘Are You Satisfied?’ is a mix of anger and disappointment at their surroundings. ‘Do Something’ turns that sentiment into a forceful call to arms to, you know, do something. It’s one of the many upsurges throughout; each song feels like a rally cry, minus the mid-album self-titled rest stop, with rasped vocals, temporarily turning the amps down from the max.
But it’s the sarcasm and humour that adds that something extra; the sampled sound-bites and spoken interruptions (‘Sorry, can I do that second verse again?’, ‘It’s all about the emotion, d’you know what I mean?’) remove this from the realm of punk that takes itself too seriously, and elevate their already lofty discontent to another level. Heather McDaid