Raised on a diet of mid-00s UK indie including The XX, Arctic Monkeys and Los Campesinos! (who they have toured with this year), Norwegian four-piece Sl0tface have already played shows with The Cribs, released a string of brilliant singles and EPs and were one of the highlights of Reading and Leeds this year. Now, they are set to release their much-anticipated debut album, ‘Try Not to Freak Out’, via Propeller Records.
The record starts with ‘Magazine’, a slice of punky indie that comes complete with some Los Camp-style ‘woo-ohhs’. A song that rallies against body-shaming and anyone who thinks looks are more important than attitude and ability, it has the memorable refrain of ‘Patti Smith wouldn’t put up with this shit’. Following this is ‘Galaxies’, which has both introspective elements and a wicked sense of wit: ‘All we ever seem to talk about is puking our guts out, terrible rap and who got caught with the lights out’. It then evolves into a rallying call for anyone who has ever been screwed over as singer Haley Shea talks about her past experiences: ‘Laughing in pain. No, I can’t explain why’; ‘Sniffing the fumes in the face of your lie’.
Recent single ‘Pitted’ is all about how sometimes you’d prefer to stay in but if you do go out, you might end up having a fantastic night. Full of youthful vigour, it reminded us of early Supergrass and recalls the party traditions people go through as they enter adulthood, along with the accompanying regrets: ‘Why didn’t anybody tell me about the dangers of playing ‘I Never’ with prosecco’; ‘In the corner with my girls playing ‘Marry, Fuck, Kill’ with every actor that’s ever played James Bond’. It ends with a burst of vigorous handclapping as Haley admits, despite all the fun and games: ‘But I’d rather stay at home’. ‘Sun Bleached’ is a massive hit in the vein of Rilo Kiley which finds Haley deciding it’s time to get on with her life after a break up and months of listening to Ryan Adams’ debut solo album ‘Heartbreaker’ on repeat. ‘Pools’ follows this and is a distant cousin to The Maccabees’ ‘Latchmere’ with its swimming-based narrative and talk of breaking the rules.
With its chorus: ‘I promise I’ll try to keep it together. It’s just that something’s been eating me whole and I can’t seem to shake it off. I promise not to freak out this week. I just go crazy when I’m gone’, ‘Try’ tackles anxiety and mental health in an honest and open manner. Over a Cribs-meets-Milk Teeth backing, Haley ponders whether she would be contagious after being ‘bit by a crazy bug’. She then repeats ‘I promise not to freak out this week’ over and over again. ‘Nancy Drew’ is all about how boring boys with acoustic guitars are getting (and how ‘more are born every year’). It has a heavier sound as Sl0tface talk about ‘tearing your boys’ club down in one fell swoop’.
‘Slumber’ looks back at the joys of slumber parties including sleeping bags, blankets and watching films you shouldn’t – Pretty in Pink, The Ring and ‘that condom scene from Grease’. It’s heartfelt and nostalgic and you might get something stuck in your eye as the band sing about the difference between forming friendships as a child and as an adult: ‘Even as a child I know that I’ll never have friends like this again. Even as child I know and I’m giddy with companionship’. The closing ‘Backyard Adventures’ is an infectious tune in the vein of early Weezer with plenty of healthy shouting about putting on a show, playing in places you shouldn’t and ‘DINOSAURS IN DARK’.
The album finishes with the band laughing at the end of ‘Backyard Adventures’ – and it’s this joyous nature, combined with the direct lyrics and incredible hooks that make them a band to treasure.