Slaves have come a long way since the beginning of last year, with debut album Are You Satisfied? reaching number 8 in the UK charts and the duo graduating to the main stage of Reading and Leeds Festival . Anyone fearing a more poppy album because of this can rest easy, as producer Mike D (of Beastie Boys fame) has helped strip down and focus the band’s sound, rather than polish and confuse it. Opening track ‘Spit It Out’ could easily have been included on their debut, whilst the 45 seconds of chaos that is ‘Fuck The Hi-Hat’ could have come from even earlier, but both are still stellar songs and certain to make you feel like head-butting the nearest wall.
Other songs on the album are less typical, with ‘Consume Or Be Consumed’ being more of a throwback to early noughties hip hop than the jagged punk rock the band are famous for. ‘Steer Clear’, featuring Baxter Dury, is slow, heartfelt, even melodic, showing that despite their explosive entrance onto the scene a year or two ago, Slaves aren’t a one-trick pony and are more than capable of stepping out of their comfort zone.
Lyrically the duo also impress, with the repeated refrain of “Too Connected/ Disconnected” on ‘Play Dead’ conjuring up images of meeting your mates for a drink and spending the whole evening on your phone, whilst ‘Same Again’ tackles club culture head on with the memorable lines “They got one hand round your throat/ The other gripping your balls”.
Whilst this attack on the status quo could easily come across as condescending, what makes it all work so well is that the band completely refuse to take themselves seriously. ‘Rich Man’, their attack on the wealthy elite, may make reference to offshore bank accounts, but it seems more interested in the titular figure’s silk pyjamas and fine china than his business practices, and it’s this tongue in cheek approach to the problems with modern culture that makes Take Control work so well.
Slaves might be angry at the state of the world, but they choose to laugh at the stupidity of it all, rather than cry at the misery. If I’d made an album this good I’d probably be laughing too.
If you want to hear more about Kent’s foremost musical duo, have a look at my interview with the band.