Sløtface’s debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ was a battle cry. A fizzing 32-minutes of freewheeling punk, it took the raucous sound that the Norwegian punks honed on their early EPs and fused it with their bold, politicised lyrics. The collection of breakneck tunes addressed the chaotic state of world events, sexism and mental health with surprising nuance and wit, a thread of hope and perseverance running throughout.
Not much has changed on second album ‘Sorry for the Late Reply’. Once again the quartet’s music is a welcome shock to the system, like when you accidentally your headphones on full volume and temporarily deafen yourself. Slamming opener ‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S’ sees vocalist Haley Shea asking “Why be good enough / When you can be a success” as she scrutinises the fact that women and immigrants have to work twice as hard to prove themselves: “You better represent / Be the best damn immigrant”). So we know what we’re getting from here: effervescent pop-punk smashes with a political edge.
The lyrics are more personal here than on previous Sløtface albums, as Shea dissects her experiences growing up in Norway with American parents. She does this best on ‘Passport’, a song about her complicated relationship with the States, which condemns the country’s current political situation while acknowledging her heritage there: “My United States have got to be / More than these barks of a small dog / Shouts that make us shake our heads / Feel powerless”.
She’s equally good at breaking down painful moments in relationships. ‘Stuff’ brilliantly analyses the bit at the end of a relationship where you’re left with a load of your ex’s possessions. “It’s just stuff / For a self-claimed / Anti-consumerist / You sure did leave me with a lot of it”.
These honest lyrics are complemented by the band’s cantering punk, which combines growling guitars with a hulking rhythm section. This time around it sounders fuller, something that could have come with the band co-producing the record with Odd Martin Skålnes (best known for his work with Sigrid and Aurora). Tunes such ‘Luminous’ give Sløtface’s trademark sound a glittering facelift, blending a gargantuan chorus – which wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Paramore record – with jangling, poppy bridges, while the stomping ‘Static’ adds elements of new wave into the mix.
Frustratingly ‘Sorry for the Late Reply’ ends on a damp note: ‘Crying in Amsterdam (Reprise)’ is a weepy, piano led do-over of a galloping tune that appeared earlier on the record. When the entire record had been bolstered by raging guitars and bolting drums, it’s a peculiar gear change. Still, on their second album, Sløtface have crafted a collection of rambunctious, pit-opening, middle-finger-raising bangers.
Release date: January 31
Record label: Propeller Recordings