Sløtface follow up 2017’s fantastic ‘Try Not to Freak Out’ with ‘Sorry for the Late Reply’, a record that finds songwriter and vocalist Haley Shea sharing her thoughts on being an American living in Norway with American parents and her conflicted feelings about the state of the world today.
‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S’ opens with Haley shouting ‘Why be good enough when you can be a success?’ with potent assertiveness and then throws in a killer bass line as Haley talks about someone being sick in great detail before getting political: ‘You be the best damn immigrant’. The power pop of recent single ‘Telepathetic’ follows with frenetic drums and melodic moments as Haley urges you to be more of an activist rather than ‘thinking if you think hard, you’ll make it happen – Telepathetic’. ‘Stuff’ was also shared ahead of the release of the album and this song finds her examining our relationship with material things after relationships move on: ‘It’s just stuff, it has no meaning anymore’; ‘Half-empty bookshelf and all of the non-fiction picked out. No substance left. But I am left with all the novels.’ ‘Luminous’ offers a mixture of hooks laced with pop, rock and country hooks – think Taylor Swift fronting Biffy Clyro with Mac DeMarco guesting – as Haley reveals how falling fast can physically hurt.
‘New Year, New Me’ is more melodic with its Jack Antonoff-style production vaues and Haley’s self-examination: ‘Today’s the day I break all my bad habits’; ‘Keep hoarding books I’ll never read, making plans I’ll never keep. New Year, New Me’. ‘Passport’ is a vibrant song that observes the numerous faults in today’s world (‘this bigotry that keeps flashing across our screens’) and finds Haley talking about her upbringing: ‘You can take the girl out from under the big sky and move her to the Northern Lights’, while ‘Laughing at Funerals’ captures just how difficult the concept of grief can be to grasp: ‘I’m sweating in my black dress, too warm for funerals. My cousins stand and smoke cigarettes, fuming in the face of death’; ‘I should be sleeping right now but I’m not’.
‘Static’ opens with studio talk in Norwegian before veering into a Rapture-esque post-punk direction that captures feelings of paranoia: ‘Evil men creeping in my dreams’; ‘I’m so damn tired, even with 8, 10, 12 hours’ sleep’. ‘Sink or Swim’ finds the band tackling the climate change crisis and showing how we all need to do something before it’s too late: ‘It’s not politics, it’s sink or swim, it’s keeping our heads above water’; ‘It’s too warm for October’; ‘Keep seeing my grandchildren die but I can’t seem to turn the lights off’. The piano lament reprise of ‘Crying in Amsterdam’ closes the record in emotional style.
There’s no need to apologise, this new Sløtface record is important and well worth the wait.