Sløtface‘s debut album, Try Not To Freak Out, was one of those albums that just reached out and grabbed you. Full of swirling, frenetic alt-rock anthems, in most cases it had an important message behind the songs. Whether it be tracks about the objectification of women in magazines, anxiety disorders or the proliferation of “boys with acoustic guitars” in the music industry, it was a breath of fresh air in a genre constantly in danger of going stale.
Happily then, Sorry For The Late Reply is even better. It takes what was so great about the Norwegians’ debut, and adds more confidence and poise – they’re as politically engaged as ever (“You better represent, be the best damn immigrant” sings Haley Shea on the opening S.U.C.C.E.S.S.), but almost every track on the album is ridiculously catchy. You’ll probably be singing along by the second listen.
Passport, which is very reminiscent of Emily Haines and Metric at times, looks at the political situation in the USA (“It cannot be this manifest destiny, this bigotry, that keeps flashing across our screens”), while Telepathetic is an anthem in waiting, urging people to get up and take action, rather than “thinking if you think hard, you’ll make it happen”. The fact that it’s set to a tune that almost fizzles with righteous fury makes it all the more compelling.
Stuff is another highlight, a stop-start verse about looking at useless “stuff” collected during a doomed relationship, before it explodes into one of those addictive choruses that Sløtface do so well. Shea is equally adept at writing about matters of the heart as she is about politics – Luminous keeps the fast and furious indie-pop approach, but throws in some blissfully romantic lines such as “I was gone the first time my fingers grazed the back of your neck through your hair… guess there’s no such thing as platonically sleeping next to you”.
The pace is kept to 100mph most of the time, but when it slows down, it hints at an intriguing new direction. New Year New Me takes thing a bit slower, as Shea dismisses the fetishisation of the start of a new calendar year (“It’s the greatest lie I always tell myself”), while Crying In Amsterdam is included on the album twice – once in a fast, guitar heavy version, and the other a more stripped back version featuring Shea singing over a piano. The two versions couldn’t be more different from each other, and Shea sounds just as effective on both.
The added confidence that comes with a second album is what raises Sorry For The Late Reply to a whole new level, and establishes Sløtface as one of the names to watch out for in 2020. Despite some of the weighty subjects tackled, the album never feels like a polemic, or preachy. Instead, these are songs to throw yourself around the moshpit to – it’s the sound of a band realising their potential and loving every minute of it.