Music preview: Slaves
Mercury-nominated duo provide a visceral live performances
This article is from 2015.
Punk music has long been pigeonholed as an anti-establishment whirlwind of sound, a bit like being repeatedly hit on the head with a pillow of apathy and told to wake up to the injustices of everyday life. Kent-natives Slaves offer up something slightly different. Though their name does recall the mind-numbing 9–5 jobs they once despised, Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent are now full-time musicians and no longer intent on continually ranting about their dissatisfaction with political parties.
The two-piece are instead all about the show. Brash, witty, self-deprecating: as Vincent puts it, ‘the songs aren’t angry’, but rather, ‘it’s all about the delivery’. It’s this strange symbiosis of bellowing vocals and three-chord handiwork, combined with a more light-hearted attitude that provides a singular stamp on the worn-out garage punk sound. This has worked pretty well for them so far. An energetic performance on Jools Holland last year quickly led to a slot at Glastonbury and their debut release in June has now been Mercury Prize-nominated. With quips about Londoners and Manta rays, the record has you banging your head one minute, and chuckling to yourself the next. Take ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’, the album closer whose title is taken from their very first EP: a far cry from the average spiteful tirade, the frontman trivially remarks, ‘don’t trust the flies, they are government spies’.
Despite all this, naysayers have been quick to brand them as inauthentic rockers. A cleanly produced record and absurd songs does not a proper punk band make, apparently. But what of their visceral live performances? While Holman assertively stands at his drums, heavily perspiring, bare-chested, voice breaking, guitarist Vincent races around onstage, scratching out heated riffs. This is angry, good-humoured and punk, all in one. Slaves are guaranteed to be a riot live.
Slaves 2015 tour dates run Wed 4 Nov–Fri 18 Dec. See below for full details.