With entertaining debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’, Norwegian pop-punks Sløtface reclaim “thunder thighs”, confront late-night anxiety and recall blissful childhoods in Stavanger. While some bands avoid social politics, Sløtface prove that they’re not afraid to be controversial.
Feminist issues are tackled head on, with the biting ‘Nancy Drew’ bemoaning the lack of popular female musicians and dreams of the “boy’s club”’s takedown. Vocalist Haley Shea demonstrates how female lyricists shift the power dynamic – unlike most passive female characters, Nancy is described using active language, while a sneaky “Cherry Bomb” reference champions iconic rock band The Runaways.
Feel-good track ‘Sun Bleached’ ignores Norway’s chillier climes, its soaring hook celebrating carefree summers. Meanwhile, ‘Galaxies’ tackles the winter season by pairing joyful indie-rock and pop. Shea captures the mood perfectly, blending the sugared tones of Gwen Stefani with the occasional Courtney Love-style yelp.
Nevertheless, fear permeates ‘Try Not To Freak Out’. Quirky indie-rock singalong ‘Try’ chronicles a full-blown panic attack, describing anxiety disorders in an honest and approachable way. Later, she channels Madonna’s enigmatic vocal style on ‘Night Guilt’, restless guitars mirroring her night-time ruminations.
Importantly the album doesn’t try too hard either, unashamedly revealing introverted awkwardness (‘Pitted’). Soporific ‘Slumber’ is sweetly-simple, recounting magical childhood sleepovers through layered harmonies. References to modern pop-culture icons, from influential punk songstress Patti Smith to “Queen B” Beyonce and meme-king Drake (“Doing our Hotline Bling thing”), feel natural rather than shoehorned in.
‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is a relatable, politically-aware debut that remains admirably light-hearted while railing against the media and patriarchy. Although Shea easily holds her own vocally, ‘Slumber’ suggests developing the male-female vocal dynamic further could diversify their sound. Sløtface are still refining their sound but this angry, well-informed pop-punk is making waves. ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is a sunlit coming-of-age soundtrack that leaves everything on the table.
‘Try Not To Freak Out’ by Sløtface is out now on Propeller Recordings.
Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)