Norway’s Sløtface kicked off their EU/UK tour with PUP at Melkweg in Amsterdam last night, and will take to the stage at Luxor in Cologne this eve. The tour comes ahead of second album, Sorry For The Late Reply and follows recent comeback singles ‘Telepathetic’, ‘Stuff’ and ‘Sink or Swim’; the latest being ‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S.’.
The long-awaited LP marks the first time the band have acted as co-producers, as they worked alongside Odd Martin Skålnes (Sigrid, Aurora) in creating their most accomplished body of work to date.
Across its 13 tracks, Sorry For The Late Reply documents the band’s past few years, much of it spent touring the world in support of their acclaimed debut Try Not To Freak Out, with its subjects ranging from the personal to the political, something we’ve come to expect from a band often lauded for their lyrics’ distinct relatability.
After road-testing new songs in prisons across Norway as part of a nationwide arts initiative, the band’s follow up release is full of blistering punk fizz and earworm hooks, articulated by masterfully melancholic lyricism, touching on the personal effects of climate change and the mundanity of the everyday, alongside a starkly honest musing on the aftermath of a break up.
New single and album opener ‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S.’ is an anthemic call to arms, with vocalist Haley Shea repeating “You’re gonna be a success / Why be good enough when you could be the damn best?” across its chorus, reminding all that Sløtface remain a band to believe in as they believe in you too.
“You’re gonna be a success / Why be good enough when you could be the damn best?”
Album title, Sorry For The Late Reply, can be found within the lyrics to ‘Sink Or Swim’: “Mostly we repeat ‘We’re tired’ / Back and forth / As we come home in the dark / And e-mail, sorry for the late reply / Back and forth / My brain keeps getting away from me / To the point where when I close my eyes I see / The million, million plastic particles / Covering the ocean floor / Floating back and forth / Back and forth”
“It’s about the desperation that comes when I think about climate change,” said Shea. “It’s supposed to be an honest description of how I’m definitely not doing enough to stop it, and how it feels so massive and difficult, but at the same time it in part comes down to lots of small and every-day choices.”
The lyric video features footage of the 1.6 million square metre Great Pacific Garbage Patch, shot by Rich Horner and Caroline Power. “The climate crisis is a huge and bundled issue,” added bassist, Lasse Lokøy. “Instead of showing icebergs melting and things that feel so far away, we felt that it made sense to make this about something we all live every day: Trash. BUT! This video is not a stab towards people not sorting out their garbage in their homes. Most of it comes from companies and governments.”
“My brain keeps getting away from me / To the point where when I close my eyes I see / The million, million plastic particles / Covering the ocean floor / Floating back and forth / Back and forth”
Building on the hurricane of momentum gathered by 2017 debut Try Not To Freak Out, Sløtface’s second album channels their livewire energy into focussed but multi-faceted explorations of both Shea’s experiences of growing up in Norway with American parents, and of wider themes of self-acceptance and self-betterment.
Skålnes’ pop sensibilities compliment Sløtface’s knack for melody and memorability, and the album bears the marks of influences as diverse as singer-songwriter Julien Baker and socially conscious Swedish rapper Silvana Imam. “It sounds like rock but it’s more defined, in a sense,” says guitarist, Tor-Arne Vikingstad of the end result. Drummer, Nils Jørgen Nilsen – who joined the band in 2018, and who Shea describes as “a great new energy boost” – completes the band lineup.
“’Stuff’ is my attempt at an honest breakup song,” says Shea, of the recent single and upcoming album track. “It’s just about all the stuff that’s left over after a relationship, especially if you live with someone, that you might have memories associated with that suddenly become painful, and how that slowly fades until the pain is gone and the stuff is just stuff again. It’s also about how great those fresh starts can be, and how you find a way back to yourself, when it’s just yourself.”
“It’s just stuff / Used to seem charming / Now it’s worn out / Things standing around / It’s just stuff / It has no meaning anymore / Things to fill the empty space”
Described by the band as more “minimalistic,” “braver” and more “raw” than their last effort, Sorry For The Late Reply features lyrics more pointed and delicately observed than ever, whether Shea is reflecting on a break-up (‘Stuff’), decrying the injustices faced by women and immigrants (‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S.’), or wistfully moving through her complex emotions about the U.S. and how her experience of nationality has shaped her (‘Passport’).
It’s all injected through with that undeniable Sløtface electricity, made even more palpable by Shea’s versatile voice against a newly streamlined sound. Together, her honesty and the way her bandmates interpret it musically make for an impressive, unstoppable-feeling pairing. As Shea describes Sorry for the Late Reply, “A lot of those stories are very personal to me, but they wouldn’t be what they are without the way they’ve come together in the music,” and certainly, as a result of that magic combination, those stories will travel far and wide.
Sorry For The Late Reply is due for release on 31 January 2020 via Propeller Recordings.
Full Tour Dates
06 – Melkweg, Amsterdam, NL
07 – Luxor, Cologne, DE
09 – Loppen, Copenhagen, DK
10 – Knust, Hamburg, DE
11 – Bi Nuu, Berlin, DE
13 – Club Chelsea, Vienna, AT
14 – Backstage Halle, Munich, DE
15 – Ohibo, Milan, IT
17 – Trix, Antwerp, BE
18 – Le Trabendo, Paris, FR
21 – Electric Ballroom, London, UK – SOLD OUT
22 – SWX, Bristol, UK
23 – Academy 2, Birmingham, UK
25 – Stylus, Leeds, UK
26 – The Garage, Glasgow, UK
28 – The Riverside, Newcastle, UK
29 – Academy 2, Manchester, UK
30 – The Loft, Southampton, UK
Photo: Jonathan Vivaas Kise