The single ‘Cheer Up London’ by Kent punk duo Slaves was premiered on BBC Radio 1 back in April. However the video for the new track was not released until the Thursday 7th May- the day of the general election. Coincidence? Probably not. The video sees Isaac and Laurie marching through a London park before being handed ice lollies by Eastenders actor Shaun Williamson dressed as an ice cream man, and passing them on to people on a red double decker bus.
If Slaves had known what the would happen over the next few days, they probably would have saved the release of their new video until then. The 8th May saw the Conservative Party win a majority in the House of Commons and David Cameron given a second term as Prime Minister. This encouraged anti-austerity protests in central London which involved clashes between demonstrators and the police, with 17 arrests being made. ‘Cheer up London, it’s not that bad’.
Back to the music, the track is featured on Slaves’ debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ which will be released on the 1st June. The two-piece are currently on a UK tour to promote the upcoming album, with two dates remaining; Birmingham’s Institute on the 18th and Sheffield’s Leadmill on the 19th. They also have a busy festival season schedule which includes appearances at The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Common People, T in the Park, Standon Calling, Leeds and Reading and Bestival.
Speaking to Huw Stephen’s on his Radio 1 show, Slaves explained that they moved to London when they were writing and Isaac came in one day after a stressful journey on London’s public transport. He was joking around saying ‘cheer up London’. ‘It just sort of stuck’ said Laurie.
The title of the song pretty much tells the story of its lyrics. It’s a belligerent take on modern British society. ‘Put another hole in your paycheque. Are you done digging your grave yet?’ Isaac sings. Possibly a message to the middle class bankers he must have seen on his daily commute through London. The verse is cheeky and stylish, with repetitive lyrics over a simple punky guitar riff which builds up anticipation for the chorus. ‘You’re dead already’ Isaac shouts over a loud drum beat, leading into a slightly quieter ‘Cheer up London, it’s not that bad’.
It’s obvious that Slaves have stuck to the formula that worked for them so well in their first few singles. But will their debut album be what everyone expects? Who knows. In the past, Slaves have been compared to everyone from The Sex Pistols and Madness to Sleaford Mods and The Black Keys. And honestly, none of them are bad comparisons to make. The Tunbridge Wells duo have attitude and aggression of The Sex Pistols, the swagger and cockney accents of Madness, the jibes at life in Old Blighty of Sleaford Mods (with less swearing) and the wonderfully simple rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs of The Black Keys.
People were saying punk was dead by the 80s when indie bands like The Smiths took over in the fight against boringly generic pop music. But with the last couple of years bringing success for Slaves and Yorkshire bands The Cribs and Eagulls, is punk returning to our mainstream?