Rambunctious punk duo Slaves are back with their thundering, absolutely fantastic third album Acts of Fear and Love.
On it, they explore a more catchy, complex sound whilst retaining the cheeky charm and sense of humour their fans love them for — it’s an album that can appeal to both rowdy festival crowds, which is probably their key demographic, and those who are more picky with their music taste. Slaves are leading the current punk resurgence that includes the likes of Shame and IDLES, and they’re doing it in a tongue in cheek style that’s impossible not to be drawn to.
Opener ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’ is instantly classic Slaves — the album’s first line is “oi, what are you doing? Nobody, I repeat nobody, gives a sh*t!”, which sums up the record’s mood perfectly. The song is a tirade on attention seeking social media users who portray their lives to be better than they actually are; it’s completely infectious and a brilliant start to the record, with guitarist, bassist and vocalist Laurie Vincent snarling “slaves!” three times at the end. This is a band who make sure you remember their name. Elsewhere, Vincent, and drummer and vocalist Isaac Holman showcase the power a duo can have if done correctly — the two synergise excellently on ‘Bugs’ and ‘Chokehold’, where drums follow chugging guitars and vocals are shared in a way that will surely get crowds yelling along when performed live. ‘Chokehold’ is such a solid single that proves that you can do anything with just a guitar and drums — such a full sound can only come from a pairing with immense chemistry, as the lighthearted music video goes to show.
The Kent duo demonstrates their wit and humour on lead single ‘Cut and Run’ and later ‘Magnolia’. The former includes the ridiculously catchy wordplay of “his days didn’t count ’cause he was counting down his days”, which sounds even more satisfying in such a strong Cockney accent. The latter begins with the line “did you know 65% of UK homes contain at least one magnolia wall? I bet you didn’t!”, a fact that seems bizarrely placed on a punk album but is nonetheless a testament to how lightly this band take themselves, in the best possible way.
The album also has its softer moments, with ‘Daddy’ breaking up the action; it’s a sad number on which Vincent takes the reigns, describing a possibly deadbeat father who wishes to return to his youth. ‘Photo Opportunity’ balances sombre, stripped back verses with a roaring, fuzzy chorus that’s full of Holman’s crashing cymbals — the dynamics between soft and loud are tackled with finesse on this absolute belter.
‘Artificial Intelligence’ is packed with so much fuzz and feedback that it’s practically tangible — the song thrums along like a tank and feels as heavy as one too. The closing title track is a brilliant way to finish a brilliant album, with its bluesy riffs and dark spoken-word verses that skyrocket into guttural yells in the well built-up to choruses. Acts of Fear and Love is a rollercoaster of an album and definitely not one to be missed.