Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Slits repackage themselves once again, release first LP since '81

Artist: The Slits
Title: Trapped Animal
Label: Narnack Records
Release date: October 2009

The Slits, a personal favorite and a band that can be considered both punk and post-punk pioneers, have yet again reinvented themselves with this, their third studio album overall and first since 1981.

While Cut was a mix of the sloppy punk Slits (see the Y compilation or their Peel Sessions) and the more mature band they became by the time they finally landed a recording contract to their liking and Return of the Giant Slits was a mix of "world music" and pantheistic thought, this newest strange brew is one-half electronic punk and hip-hop and one-half well-executed white reggae reminiscent of some of the better On-U Sounds projects.

The album’s brightest point is “Ask Ma”, which incorporates traces of hip-hop and dancehall without adopting those genres' sometimes corny lyrics. It’s a song about how some men are impossible for women to deal with because of hangups caused by overprotective mothers. Ari still sings about what she knows. Thirty years ago, she knew about having to steal to eat. Now, she knows about being a wife and mother.

After a couple of average songs, things pick up again with the piano-driven “Rejects” and the refined savage anthem “Trapped Animal”. This tribal take on dance punk comes across great on record and will make Slits fans wonder how these songs sound live.

“Peer Pressure” is another tribal number about how society tells young girls how to think, but lyrics like “I don’t like what I’ve got to do, just to have a bunch of friends at school” ring true with adults, too.

About halfway through the album, reggae vibes take over. Several of the reggae-infused tunes are keepers and are surprisingly on par with some of the On-U Sounds recordings that featured Ari Up. Examples of this include the mellow “Crybaby” and “Be It”.

The Slits have quite a legacy to live up to, and this fan honestly was not so sure if this new album would be in the same league as the band's earlier releases. Trapped Animal is a pleasant surprise and is the newest progression for a band that is still kicking down doors and inspiring 7 Inch Atlanta favorites like Finally Punk and The Coathangers.

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