By Jack Holmes
Slaves went above and beyond with their 2015 debut Are You Satisfied?, they gave a voice to a group of young British punks that have been largely starved over the last few years, with real musical gems only occasional rising to the scenes surface. Its title was an accurate description of the bands message, with the album striking at the struggles of the millennial generation in a country whose government has betrayed them at every turn, from doctors, to students to zero-hour contract workers. Their rallying cry of “Cheer up London” was one that resonated far beyond the capital it directly focused upon.
That punk soul and message is alive once again on Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent’s follow up, Take Control, their messages are strong and clear, and come from a generation that need punk protest anthems more than ever. However, the flare that set Slaves apart on their rapid rise to champions of the festival circuit, is surprisingly scarce. Tongue in cheek humour is replaced with a monotonous wave of noise, not that Slave fans are going to be overwhelmingly disappointed by that fact, simply that Slaves have always come across as enjoying their craft and that entertainment factor is a little harder to find amongst Take Control’s riotous onslaught. The 16 track follow up occasionally reminds us of those entertaining, almost comic moments such as the 45-second-long Fuck the Hi-Hat, a well needing injection of energetic fun. Sadly, these cases are few and far between on an album that begins to feel repetitive and bland in comparison to the character they displayed just one year ago.
There are still moments of pure undiluted energy to be enjoyed though, the first single from the album Spit It Out is a perfect fit for the live shows the band made their name with in the early days of their formation back in 2012, and will undoubtedly serve them well on their UK tour this month. Streer Clear slows down the albums noise with an almost Joy Division bass line and allowing listeners some well needed breathing room while Hynotised features a pulsing riff that’s almost impossible not to tap along to. Still, most of the promising tracks fail to break into the realms of real greatness, often let down by vocals that fade into the noise and fury of the tracks, rather than lead them.
Take Control is in no way a bad album, put simply, Slaves fans will likely have just expected something more from a band that have so rapidly risen to their iconic rank. Having only been together for four years the duo remain in a strong position musically. The angry millennial punk is a force to be reckoned with and any band that can release a cover of Skepta’s Shutdown without coming off as a sell-out, grasping for mainstream fame or utterly insane has certainly earned their generations ear.
Critics have claimed that this album lets Slaves break free of their pigeonhole description as a “novelty act”, those writers and reviewers seem to be ignoring the character Slaves lose in that process. Although with the following Slaves currently wield, it’s unlikely to slow them down for too long.
You can find out more info on Slaves and their upcoming tour here.