No, this isn’t the opening credits to a trash nineties high school series; this is the opening track to the debut LP from Sløtface, your favourite no-shits-to-give pop-punk band from Norway. The charging riffs on ‘Magazine’ may sound like they should be cut to Chad and Brianna sipping sodas on the popular table, but as Haley Shea’s gutsy lyricism pierces into blazing guitars, this is clearly a record of opposing vision. How about FUCK the popular table, and tell the unrelenting patriarchal pressures of society to do one; “Patti Smith would never put up with this shit”.
Who else can do one? How about the man’s-world of the music industry. Shea directly addressing the issue with promises to take down the “boys club” with an all-encompassing climax of blistering noise that knocks half of it down in one blow (‘Nancy Drew’). Continuing on from their quartet of EPs, the Scandi band preserve a reputation for busy guitars and delectable pop hooks, thriving apace with their signature raucous spirit, continuing to present a dedicated appreciation of pop culture; the record brims with references from Beyoncé to Bowie and Bond. Finally, a punk album that openly recognises the artistry of Queen B…
Try Not To Freak Out is a buoyant celebration of everything it means to be young, whether that’s just wanting to stay in and Netflix, but being dragged out by your pals and accidentally having the best night ever (‘Pitted’), or making some questionable decisions to ‘chill’; “I keep cocking my gun / trying to hit the sweet spot / but I’m blinded by the night” (‘Night Guilt’). Despite its loud sonic confidence this isn’t just a record for embracing the mischief; the lyrical honesty and often aptly mundane lyricism of occasional tracks make this a record reflective of the youthful experience as a whole, whether that’s chipped nail varnish (‘Sun Bleached’) or enjoying ‘Backyard Adventures’. A surprising highlight comes in the form of the five-and-a-half minute ‘Slumber’, a euphorically sentimental anthem of layered vocal harmonies and lyrical nostalgia in which Shea and co reminisce the innocence of the slumber party days – “I’ll never have friends like these again”.
For the best part, though, guitars are the main draw. From the outset the band conquer the infectious pop-punk riff, but show that this is not all they’re capable of bossing. ‘Galaxies’ opens with mellow blues guitar, a wonderful contradiction to its overlaying lyrical common-touch of “all we ever seem to talk about is puking our guts out”, we appreciate the honesty. Sløtface deter critiques of being ‘just another feisty pop-punk band’ by experimenting with instrumentation, as admired with frantic horns which battle above climactic riff crescendos in ‘Pitted’. Don’t forget the disco, too; ‘Night Guilt’ boasts sexy driving bassline and groovy guitar trills in a bridge which truly bangs.
Whilst their EPs established the band as worthy of praise in the production of thrilling pop-punk, their debut presents versatile musicianship embedded within electrifying punk sonics, affirming the quartet as absolutely a force to be reckoned with.
Equal parts thoughtful to reckless, Sløtface triumph with a blowout of fiercely fun pop tunes.