Sløtface Try Not To Freak Out on their debut album

Try Not to Freak OutDebut albums are always an enticing prospect. They're the culmination of years of dreams and work. At their best, the debut finds artists at their most exhilarating; their art at its most immediate and exciting. It's a nice introduction to an artist's work, allowing them to put their best foot forward and really set out to impress. All of these factors are good reasons to look forward to a debut album. There's just something about them that makes the listening experience a uniquely special experience.

This is relevant because much touted Norwegian feminist punk quartet Sløtface are just about to put out their debut, Try Not To Freak Out.

It's a breakup album, but not in the way you might expect. It's not an album about a breakup with any specific individual. (As singer Haley Shea has explained, she hasn't actually had any of the nasty kinds of relationships breakups that kind of album would require). Instead, it's a breakup with unrealistic body image and media created ideals.

Opening track "Magazine" gets things off to a great start. Taking on the media, armed with catchy hooks and aggressive guitars, it grabs your attention straight away. It sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's insightful and intelligent, but it's also a lot of fun. The refrain, "Patti Smith wouldn't put up with this shit" gets into your head and stays there bouncing around for ages.

Pop culture references are another thread entwined throughout Try Not To Freak Out. This trend reaches its pinnacle with "Nancy Drew". Both a tribute to the 1930s detective and a full throated barrage at the "music industry's boys' club." In an era when 'indie' is increasingly dominated by private school educated white boys, it feels incredibly necessary. It's both a throwback to the days when 'indie' meant something and completely of the now. And besides, "I've filled my quota of boys with acoustic guitars" is just a fucking great lyric in its own right.


Sløtface is unafraid to embrace their youth, without letting it constrain them. "Slumber" recalls the days of sleepovers and horror movies. It looks back without trading too heavily on idealised nostalgia, both celebrating and mourning the loss of childhood innocence. There's something about it that's almost unbearably poignant, but as always the cheering power of the guitars and Sløtface's inherently tuneful nature stop it from ever feeling maudlin.

"Pitted" is the stand out anthem on an album full of anthemic tracks. An ode to not wanting to go out and yet finding you actually have an amazing time when you do, it's the old mantra that 'the personal is political' set to music. The political nature of the album is combined with a strong sense of intimacy, as you might expect from a band known for playing small house shows as a matter of course. Sløtface are your cool best friend, always ready to provide insight on a variety of subjects and yet also just ready to let loose and party.

There is one major way in which Try Not To Freak Out departs from the standard debut template. Unlike most debuts, you won't have heard the vast majority of the tracks on this album before. Previous singles like "Empire Records" aren't to be seen. This is a bold move, but it pays off. The album is strong enough to stand on its own feet, while the absence of those songs means that for those listeners just discovering Sløtface there's more out there to jump into.

If the debut album is a rite of passage for a band, it all gets a bit meta on Try Not To Freak Out. Lyrically, the album is also a rite of passage, exploring ideas of youth and transition. This is important. This is an album that Sløtface couldn't have written in the past and won't write again in the future. It's very much an album of the now. As a snapshot of where the band is now, a better debut couldn't have been asked for.

Release: 15th September 2017, Propeller Records


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