Acts of Fear and Love is the third album in as many years from duo Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent. Since bursting onto the scene with 2015’s Mercury nominated Are You Satisfied, the Kentish Man and The Man from Kent (there’s a distinct difference) have built a colossal live reputation. Their live sets are so ferociously intense, vocalist and drummer Isaac has had surgery in an effort to stop his shoulders popping out while beating with all his heart.
Ever since The White Stripes, the concept of a duo creating a cacophony of sound began to become ubiquitous. Slaves however, give us something different that’s hard to pin down. Maybe it’s their infectious, cheeky, everyman charm? Or maybe it’s just down to the primal fury and thunderously catchy guitar riffs that filled their debut album?
It was anyone’s guess where they would go for their second studio offering. But few expected Beastie Boy Mike D to come calling with an offer of producing sophomore album Take Control. The California vibe certainly did little to mellow the intensity of their sound. However, latest release Acts of Fear and Love sees them dial back in places and reach a new levels of versatility.
Although you’ll initially have to trust me on this, as tracks like album opener The Lives They wish They Had and Bugs are bristling with their usual attitude and intensity. Cut and Run is catchy and a shoo-in for the first single from the record. Dialed back a bit and more accessible than a majority of their catalogue, it still maintains fierce momentum. Tracks like Magnolia, Chokehold and Artificial Intelligence give the impression they’ve learnt the trick of preserving the voltage while reducing the watts, examining issues of lost love, consumerism and dystopian futures.
There’s surprising delicacy on this album too. Poke at midlife crisis Daddy is wonderfully spacious and features backing vocals from Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell. There’s a new level of texture to Slaves on Photo Opportunity and Acts of Fear and Love. Like the rest of this album, the tracks highlight the progression of the duo both musically and lyrically. Holman has always been unabashed about the personal darkness and fury that drives him. The darkness to the light of apparent nice guy Vincent. Whether he’s found the personal peace to strip the sound back, I couldn’t say. But whatever the reason, Acts of Fear and Love could be the album to see Slaves take their rightful place on the global stage. Don’t be fooled however, by adjectives like delicacy, texture and stripped back. Slaves at a 7 is still anyone else dialed up to 11.
Slaves will be playing live in the US on;
Crucialfest 8, Utah State Fairpark, Salt Lake City, UT.
Cal Jam 2018, Glen Helen Amphitheater, San Bernardino, CA, US