Slaves’ Mercury-nominated debut 'Are You Satisfied?' was a breath of fresh air, a burst of urgency backed by dirty bass and heavy drums. But on a difficult second album, the Tunbridge Wells punk duo search to locate originality and depth amid their basic format of chaos and rebellion.
Produced by former Beastie Boy Mike D, 'Take Control' comes just 15 months after their debut - perhaps too soon, which makes the album seem rushed to capitalise on ‘hype’. But amongst the filler and punk-by-numbers, the good songs really are great.
Isaac Holman’s wailing vocals chastise the nine-to-five ('Same Again'), the music biz ('Mr Industry') and the rich ('Rich Man'), raging against the day-to-day in 2016. Lead single 'Spit It Out' harks back to their debut, but 'Hypnotise' drags their second effort to darker depths, with a grungier sound setting a tone for the rest of the album.
'Lies' is one of the few songs with a catchy riff, and also one of a handful which suggest better things to come. Laurie Vincent’s guitar prowess has definitely improved since their debut, and 'Lies' showcases it without showing off.
'Fuck The Hi-Hat' is 45 seconds of pure punk, distilled through howling guitars and smashing drums. 'Steer Clear' featuring Baxter Dury seems to be begging for a remix, with a groovy, Gorillaz-esque chorus questioning identity, life and reality.
Despite it’s flaws, Slaves’ die-hard fans will lap it up - and besides, the pair's electric live shows have always been their true calling. Despite the lack of progression from the first album to the second 'Take Control' is a perfectly listen-able album - and perhaps album three will be where they shine.
Words: Megan White
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