Two piece bands, what can they achieve? Well a lot actually. White Stripes, The Black Keys, Simon and Garfunkel and a personal favourite of my own the “Postal Service,” are all examples of how 2 musical minds can be better than 4 or 5!
The Slaves however present something different through their music. After a UK top 10, Mercury nominated debut album, The Slaves set the bar for their second record pretty high. Especially when news broke that Mike D of the Beastie Boys would be producing, anticipation grew further.
For me to say The Slaves took this record in a different direction would be a lie, however they do offer something different. The anger, swagger and lust for conformation remains but the duo take the opportunity to present more meaningful darker themes.
Nevertheless they are kind to the listener, the record’s opening track and lead single, “Spit It Out,” seems like a left over from their debut album “Are You Satisfied?” Everything a Slaves fan is familiar with is there. Chaotic energy somehow captured in shrewd production with one aim, to create an anthem.
The duo seem to take a stab at authority or “the man,” if you will. The track “Mr. Industry,” suggests that the band may not see the world of corporate rat races as a way of life. This is echoed in tracks like “Rich Man,” and “Lies.” The lyrics “two sides to the coin in his hand, he’s got a big house and a whole lot of land,” are roared with disdain, along with the sorrow portrayed in the lyrics, “in the shadow of the city where we got nothing let, you do as your told even if you know it’s not right.”
The stand out track for me on the record is “Steer Clear.” In just under 3 minutes, the duo present a new sound that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Damon Albarn creation. Regardless of negative tones within the lyrics, positive advice somehow seeps through. There is a seriousness starting to appear in there writing.
The album does feature some unwanted filler but for a band to present a second album with 15 tracks on it, this has to be expected. This is overshadowed however by the genius of Mike D. His rapping on “Consume Or Be Consumed,” is short but effective, making sure he adds to the rebellious ethos of the record. The band are sure to mention his efforts, with the line “He used to be a Beastie Boy, but now he works for me.”
“Take Control,” will satisfy Slaves fans for now, but you do feel that this brash unforgiving attitude is starting to wear thin and maybe it’s time for a change. Especially if the evidence is there that it can be done.