Album review: The Slits – ‘Trapped Animal’

Seminal punkers keeping one foot stuck in the past

It’d be churlish to expect precocious post-punk priestesses [a]The Slits[/a], teenage underminers of [a]Sex Pistols[/a]’ cocky masculinity, to stay caged in the past. The primitive, untutored musical naivety that made songs like ‘Typical Girls’ so idiosyncratic and interesting couldn’t last. What wouldn’t be churlish, though, is to expect them to keep pushing themselves. 1981’s ‘Return Of The Giant Slits’ was genuinely ambitious and inventive, a reach into a dubby, dancey future. Three decades on and the best Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt, plus a motley crew of new recruits, can manage is an album of deeply average reggae radio pop that sounds like Cyndi Lauper’s troubled sleep mumblings. Lyrically it’s excruciating, from the tired misapprehension that whining about men being rubbish = feminism on ‘Ask Ma’ to Ari’s assertion that “Look at an ancient jungle tree/You see me… tribal warrior princess” on (yes) ‘Reggae Gypsy’. We’re all for people celebrating the music they love free from boundaries of race and that, but there’s something inescapably grating about hearing a German/English newspaper heiress wittering on about fucking Babylon in thick patois. Crushingly disappointing.

Emily Mackay

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Click here to get your copy of The Slits’ ‘Trapped Animal’ from the Rough Trade shop.