Take Control is the sophomoric effort of UK punk duo Slaves and is quite possibly a perfect album. Now, this is not an accolade gifted lightly, nor is this being proclaimed in the high-pitched squeal wielded only by that of the obsessive fan, rather this is something entirely different. This ‘compliment’ of sorts is given with a great amount of hesitation and silent yet frustrating awe. It is not a path that any true reviewer and connoisseur of the arts happily chooses to follow but rather one that they must be dragged down, all the while kicking and screaming (and bumping their head along to the harsh melodies of Laurie Vincent). Take Control is an effortlessly perfect album, Kim K is a hero, and the American presidential election is a social media battle. Ladies and gentlemen, the world has effectively gone crazy and it’s about time we accept it.
The album opens with the confrontational ‘Spit it Out’ and challenges all those in society who keep their opinions, frustrations and all manner of everyday turmoil bottled up to just..do something about it. It effectively establishes the tone for the remainder of the project. Insanely rhythmic guitar riffs, vocals that can easily transition between conversational to guttural screams. It’s loud, it’s overbearing and is sure to frighten the elderly but it just works. It works so well. ‘Hypnotised’ follows and quite literally captures the mind of the listeners and transfers them to a gritty, darker version of England. It proves to properly be the most immersive song on the entire album and it only gets increasingly better from there.
However, what kind of objective measurement of Slaves’ latest project would this be if it only blindly praised the band. So flaws, things that are omnipresent in almost every other album must be present here..right? Not really, there are minor grievances of course. At times it does feel like you’re listening to an amazing playlist as opposed to a fully fledged album, while Take Control does drastically differentiate itself from their other projects, the lack of an overall running theme or message at times is too noticeable. However, that’s not really a fault of Slaves themselves but rather their genre, punk in and of itself always has a consistent theme; that being “fuck society” and “fuck you” if you like it because if there’s anything that Take Control tackles, it’s that of losing control of one’s existence. You know what – scratch that last critique, the work here is pretty nuanced.
The album needs fewer skits, but that probably stems from just a selfish need for more music from this band, like right now. Nevertheless, and all compliments aside, the album craves more songs like ‘Angelica’ and ‘Steer Clear’, that truly stand out as testimony to the writing ability possessed by these two young men. Both sincere, wise and far too pessimistic for their years. Sombre guitar riffs, light drums that foster contemplation with each nod of the head, and coarse harmonies that sound authentically blue. There’s honestly not much needed to be said here. Take Control is a near-perfect album for what it is.
Slaves photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko