Norwegian indie pop quartet Sløtface, FKA and still pronounced as Slutface, are about to release their eagerly awaited debut album Try Not To Freak Out. Spoiler alert: It’s brilliant.
Opener ‘Magazine’ kicks off their debut with a statement, a song which vocalist Haley Shea has described as a “breakup song about breaking up with bad body image and unrealistic representations of human bodies in media.” It’s a fuck you to letting media make you feel “uncomfortable in your own skin”. With their insanely catchy brand of punky indie pop, it’s easy to forget about the bands political and feminist edge. From their ‘Sponge State’ video, where they perform for activists protesting against Nordic Mining’s dumping of chemical waste, to this, where they attack the shitty pressure that creates thoughts of “how do I get it, lose it, have it, want it?”. As Shea eloquently puts it; “Patti Smith would never put up with this shit”.
This theme develops in ‘Nancy Drew’ where she discusses replacing the socially ingrained “structures of men” with “a soundtrack of women who all know what’s up”. The guitar tone here is grittier than ever, highlighting the subtle areas of growth in the band’s sound. It’s not too far from what we’ve heard on Empire Records or Sponge State, but there’s a boost in confidence instrumentally and a slight notion of growth. Another highlight is the Los Campesinos-y ’Sunbleached’, which “chronicles carefree roadtrips and the relief of pitch-black Norwegian winters finally giving way to summer.” It’s Sløtface at their best. Loud, dramatic, angsty, with great lyrics.
‘Galaxies’ makes it known that “puking our guts out” is getting boring, and talking about it is even more tiresome, complementing the following admission in ‘Pitted’ that sometimes you’d just “rather stay home”. The writing seems to come from a liminal space of experiencing youths depressing anxieties while simultaneously yearning for the freedom and energy slipping into the past. Behind the consistently brilliant tunes, this nostalgic melancholy broods. On ‘Slumber’, with its cutesy Moldy Peaches-esque lyrical earnesty, the band are comfortable with letting you in on the secret that they’re rejecting post-adolescence realisations. Huddled “in blankets on the floor”, “giddy with companionship”, trying not to freak out at the impending doom of adulthood. The theme continues in album closer ‘Backyard Adventures’, a fast paced ode to play. Its childlike escapism and sense of pure fun is sure to make it a live favourite.
Like youth, the record is over far too soon. “The dangers of playing I have never with Prosecco” fade to irrelevancy almost as quickly as the album’s 32 minutes are up. It’s less escapism via guitar riffs as it is a reminder of the passing of time. But spend time with the album and you’ll see that its dual nature is key to its message; you have the choice to pore over every sad detail and deep meaning or, more excitingly, you can sing yer fucking heart out to every word on this wonderful, radiant, defiant debut album from one of the best new bands about.