There’s a particular talent in being able to mimic Bowling for Soup, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and the earlier incarnations of the Arctic Monkeys in a single, four-track EP.
It takes a bizarre melting pot of dedication to a certain stylistic flourish and a shape-shifting sound capable of tasting of different flavours whilst remaining the same colour.
It downright tricks your brain.
Hailing from the Norwegian city of Stavanger (known exclusively to this journalist as home of Viking FK, the old club of a certain Brede Hangeland), Sløtface are a pacey pop-rock quartet currently in the heady swathes of recording their debut album, which is set to drop next year.
And judging by the saccharine, if a little plain, tones of their ‘Empire Records’ EP, the only slight disappointment for fans will be the fact that the record won’t bare the band’s original name – the quirky, but emphatically less-than-PG ‘Slutface’.
While Sløtface changed their name after online censorship, they have forged on. Due for release on November 18th, the ‘Empire Records’ EP seeps immediate pace from the first track, ‘Bright Lights’ – a speed that is maintained as lead singer Haley Shea’s vocals swim around the boisterous drums and snappy guitar before the chorus breaks away, adding an element of anarchism to the track, before more delicate harmonies rock the music to sleep.
The band’s new jive cut, ‘Take Me Dancing’, has more snarl and punch to it – a bit more Babe Ruth and a bit less Babe the pig – as a concentrated drumming riff springs forward after some sharp hi-hat work in the eponymous ‘Empire Records’ number.
Ending on a meandering note, the EP takes on a weirdly wistful and pleasant tone in ‘Fever Art’, as the core instruments all coalesce in a much more staccato stabbing frenzy.
Understandably lacking a proper change of tact (this is effectively a vestigial version of a bone-fide album, after all), the band could use a chili-powder kick to their sound; a real hook of the ‘Other’ to slap the listener’s eardrums and nudge them into a sense of recognition, making them do something they very much hadn’t intended, like absent-mindedly licking mustard straight off the knife.
There’s a distinct lack of edge; everything is nice, it’s all a bit “American-Pie-background-music”.
Then again, if the album proper can add that extra little sugar and spice that makes you want to have sex with a pie, then what’s there not to love?
Shea lilts tempestuously about a need to be “taken away from the edge of the stage”, but maybe the extremities are just what this sound needs. More surprises. More shocks. More lick-my-mustard-knife-and-feel-like-my-brain-is-fire gargle and grit. More ‘more’.
Picture courtesy of Peter Tubaas, with thanks.