Wednesday, 3 June 2015
Review of 'Are You Satisfied?' by Slaves
‘You are not stuck in traffic! You are traffic! Move!’
Drummer and singer, Isaac Holman, and Hawiian-shirt-wearing guitarist and backing vocalist, Laurie Vincent, together make up the Tunbridge Wells punk duo that is Slaves.
Their sound and attitude is a throwback to classic punk before the Blink-182s of this world showed up and started writing soppy love songs about the girl next door. Slaves aren’t interested in the girl next door. They most probably think that the girl next door is a drone, a slave to society, ‘already dead’.
In an angry cockney inflection similar to Johnny Rotten, Slaves spend each song rallying their listeners to get up and rebel, even if it’s not clear what they want their listeners to rebel against. There’s some vague talk about global warming in the opening track ‘The Hunter’ but that’s about as explicit as the politics get. Never mind. The Sex Pistols didn’t exactly have a strong political manifesto either – they just wanted to shake things up, and that’s all I need in my punk. Messages can be preachy – it’s the attitude that makes for entertaining music.
What also makes music entertaining is a sense of rawness and a bit of musical talent – two things Slaves have that The Sex Pistols didn’t.
Refreshingly, these guys aren’t a manufactured band and they do know how to play their instruments. Their riffs are bluesy and rhythmically tight, the kind of riffs that make you want to start a bar fight or steal a car or ignore a ‘please don’t step on the grass’ sign. These riffs are also damn catchy as are the vocal hooks – a sign that this band has a clear ear for songwriting.
A sense of humour serves as the cherry on top. Most of this humour feels improvised, which makes it all the more earthy. Moments including marvelling the feedback of one song, and interrupting another to restart a verse. Then there are the random adlibs such as the ‘unicorns are real’ line shoehorned into ‘Despair and Traffic’. I’ve been waiting so long for a rock band like this. I am curious and excited to see how they’ll grow.