Take Control

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Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman's loud and direct approach isn't an entirely new concept, although perhaps it has a new purpose in the context of recent political upheaval. Historically speaking, this kind of worldwide political agenda is accompanied by an outcry from the artistic community, with music playing a pivotal role in calling out social injustice. Instead, current rock trends rely on introspective or self-indulged lyrics, soft electronica, and folksy harmonics. Slaves, alternatively, offer a much-needed release of pent-up anger and frustration for an increasingly disenfranchised youth. When asked why they were releasing their second album, just one year on from their debut, Vincent commented "If you stop making music, you stop being relevant." How self-aware that statement is depends on interpretation, but their popularity suggests that their particular brand of social angst is not only relevant, but a necessary rallying cry for a generation all too often described as apathetic.

Lyrically, they target general topics such as the rich elite or iPhone addiction, as opposed to singling out anything specific. In a sense, their overall vagueness is the key to their broad appeal; they represent two average guys who are sick of modern attitudes, the key difference being that they are not afraid to say something about it. A difference that they are very aware of; track one, "Spit It Out," directly addresses the comfortably numb masses, with a renewed vigor that serves to underline their message.

The first half of the record follows suit, with the addition of Mike D's -- who produced the record -- influence. On the surface, Mike can be heard in the form of an awkward verse ("Consume or Be Consumed") or the inclusion of two skits ("Mr. Industry" and "Gary"), but overall Take Control sounds like typical Slaves. Perhaps it was at Mike D's behest, but the latter half does play with a few new ideas, in general slowing the pace down. Most notably is the relatively sentimental "Steer Clear," a direction that Slaves rarely demonstrate and certainly haven't to this degree -- it even includes some subtle synths and a backing harmony. Then there's the more directly electronic "STD's/PHD's," although you can rest assured that it channels the sound of Nine Inch Nails more than James Blake.

It should come as no surprise that the second half suffers for its subdued pace; after all, Slaves are fashioned around the idea of being abrasive, not insightful. Take Control also features its fair share of forgettable numbers, such as "Fuck the Hi-Hat," which sounds like it was recorded accidently by a rogue studio mike. However, trying to differentiate from their debut comes down to splitting hairs, owing much to the short amount of time separating the two. Again, the level of self-awareness is debatable, but naming the last track "Same Again" seems more than coincidence. Not only does it sound like a promise that Slaves won't be reinventing the wheel anytime soon, it comes across as a vague threat; they are effectively saying that they will shout at you as long as it takes for you to confront your everyday demons, in politics, in society, and in yourself.

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