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The Slits – Album Review

Trapped Animal

Written by Katie Weatherall

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I’ll put up my hands and admit that as a girl, health medications not yet a quarter of a century old, remedy talking about music is utterly intimidating. Yet I try. At some point in my life I’ll make a concerted effort to dance about architecture too. There is an endless wealth of information on bands that have already been, that I am never, ever going to be able to catch up on. Yet I try. As a music fan (enough to write about it), I’m embarrassed to admit that I only really discovered my, now, all time favourite band, Talking Heads within the last five years. I know, shoot me down. My convoluted point is that, as much as I try and piece it together, I can only imagine what The Slits releasing ‘Cut’ meant to the females and general youth and music fans of 1979. Yes there was a sex bomb fronted Blondie, intriguingly androgynous Patti Smith and unconventional Kate Bush, but an all female, punk rock band that posed naked on their album sleeve and generally didn’t give a f***. No one saw that coming and their influence has reverberated ever since.

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Fast forward then 30 years and their new album, Trapped Animal, has been unleashed to a society that is certainly far from sorted. But can the music still have the same punch? The garage approach of Cut has inevitably given way to a slicker product all round. That same mixture of reggae rhythms, scratchy guitars, anger and mischief abounds. Rather than sounding like a band thirty years past their prime, as could be said of many a reunion album, there is a freshness that means you could be mistaken for thinking you’re hearing the latest South London council estate collective. This could be explained by the new multi-generational line-up that features Sex Pistol Paul Cook’s daughter, Hollie. You also get the impression that frontwoman Ari Up has as much energy as her fourteen year old self that met original member, Palmolive, at a Patti Smith gig.

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Lyrically, the album doesn’t stretch the boundaries of the concept of rhyming but you wouldn’t hear Girls Aloud bemoaning of “Men who want us to be their mother/Men who hate us because of their mother.” Where the Pop Idol-ers are concerned with their “cappuccinos to go-o”, Up and her girls are hollering about ‘Peer Pressure’, “issues with child abuse” and eschewing the shackles of a nine to five: “We don’t pay rent with a passion, and we don’t wanna follow fashion.”

The fact that foul-mouthed Lily Allen launched her career on the wave of reggae-tinged pop is no accident. The Slits invented the model for anti-establishment, men-bashing, unselfconscious pop and even though this new offering will never live up to Cut standards, it’s a welcome return of punk’s finest.

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