For the classic recipe of a Slaves album you’ll need: punchy riffs, political narrative and two lunatics flying around a studio. The return of the Kent two-piece with their third full length record, Acts of Fear and Love, has certainly brought all the ingredients to create one hell of a sound.
This record comes as a perfect addition to the Slaves discography, with subtle introductions to a new side of the duo we’ve not yet seen. Whilst 2015 saw Slaves reinvent the idea of old school punk and bring it firmly into mainstream modern music with Are You Satisfied?, now, as we enter Acts of Fear and Love with ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’, we’re transported back to the same sound which first put the band on the map.
Attacking social media obsessors with streaking guitars, anarchical attitudes and punchy lyricism, this opening track is more than strong enough to get any crowd moving. Vocalist/drummer Isaac Holman is aggressive and passionate in his delivery whilst also maintaining a degree of almost sarcasm and mockery within his words. The track’s latter half features not only a burst of Slaves’ signature insane sound, but the repetitive screaming of the band’s name, adding both a powerful addition to the song but also a nice nod to how far they’ve travelled since we last saw them.
Slaves have never exactly been ones to take things seriously, whether it be nearly destroying the Brighton Pier during 2017’s The Great Escape, hosting drummer tryouts in their latest music video, or the recruitment of guitarist Laurie Vincent’s newborn son to help promote this album, it’s clear that Slaves are still having a great deal of fun with their sound. Behind the shouts and screams are just two creative minds who have been able to generate the perfect level of social commentary mixed with sarcastic observation and, even though the band have been going for well over six years, the result remains truly immense. Whereas so many are aiming to adhere to convention, Slaves are continuously pushing the boundaries of what constitutes modern popular music and are giving those who have lost faith in mainstream radio a new voice.
At first glance, the nine tracks feel as though they’ll be too short to create a full record covering numerous issues, however, each seems to hit the nail on the head perfectly, bringing whimsy and witty meanings whilst working incredibly cohesively with one another. Tracks such as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and lead single ‘Magnolia’ are both fresh yet incorporate everything we have come to love about Slaves’ sound: the grittiness, aggression and sense of distain for modern society all come through in abundance.
Meanwhile, other tracks such as ‘Daddy’ and ‘Photo Opportunity’ have demonstrated an all new, more sensitive side of the band which we haven’t seen in this kind of manner before. The emphasis on softer and more vulnerable lyricism is a nice addition to the sound and feels as though the two have begun to further open their emotional range beyond angst and anger, which makes sense considering the rollercoaster of success that the band have covered over the past two years.
All in all, a lot of Slaves’ fanbase will be on board with this record and for those sticklers wanting the band to repeatedly play ‘The Hunter’ over and over again, move on, it seems that chapter of the band’s career is coming to a firm close. Acts of Fear and Love feels like everything that this band needed to stay fresh: beautifully encapsulating all that is pure and fun about writing music with your closest friends, a message all aspiring musicians should remember.