Kent punk rock two-piece Slaves have always defied expectation. On paper, a duo comprised of frantic guitars, a stand-up drummer, and angry, noisy vocals that would make any other double-act weep shouldn’t have broken the mainstream.
Yet with two top 10 records under their belt and a huge UK tour booked for the coming autumn, Slaves are back with their third full-length and are ready to blow expectations out of the water yet again.
‘Acts Of Fear And Love’ is very much an album of two halves. Opener ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’ pulls no punches, poking fun at Instagram celebrities, like-hungry posts and society’s ongoing quest to achieve social media acceptance. It opens like many other Slaves tracks, with a steady, simplistic beat and a bouncy riff. Two-thirds of the way through, the track descends into a riotous hardcore anthem that sees the band explore exciting new territory.
The first half of the album is a logical follow-up to 2016’s ‘Take Control’; roaring vocals and powerful guitars that would make any ’77 punk proud. One of the stand-out tracks ‘Magnolia’ features Slaves‘ signature wry social commentary of rat-race Britain that builds into a chant-along chorus, “Watch me paint my walls magnolia.”
Juxtaposing the ferocious energy of the first half, the second sees the duo showing us their softer side, something that was barely evident at all on their first two LPs. This could perhaps have something to do with guitarist Laurie Vincent becoming a father (his son Bart is actually on the cover of the record).
If this was ever up for debate, the mellowest track is entitled ‘Daddy’. While subtlety isn’t something that you’d expect from a band that packs such a punch, this feels a little on-the-nose.
There are some brilliant moments during the mellower act of this release: the title-track is an Ian Dury-esque post-punk contemplation of life, the universe, and everything else. However, it’s clear that Slaves‘ strengths are in the loud and angry.
Despite that, it’s good to see a band that isn’t scared of trying something new. Here’s to seeing what their future explorations bring.