Smuttily named Norwegians, Sløtface are a quartet consisting of vocalist Haley Shea, guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke and bassist Lasse Lokøy.
The basic Sløtface sound is short, sharp blasts of pop-punk; rapid drum beats fused with chiming guitars. We’re instantly taken back to the early-noughties, indie nightcluubs where Rilo Kiley and We Are Scientists filled the floors. That the band suggest more of an appreciation for Robyn than, “droney, seven-minute songs” should surprise no-one.
Sløtface are from the Norwegian city of Stavanger. Along with the neighbouring city of Sandnes, Stavanger forms a conurbation of over 210,000 making it Norway’s third largest urban area, or as they’re known in Norway, tettsed, literally meaning dense place. One of Norway’s oldest cities, Stavanger was officially founded in 1125 on completion of the Stavanger Cathedral, and much of its city centre consists of 18th and 19th century wooden houses. In more recent times the city has gone through something of a boom due to its proximity to Norway’s fertile offshore oil industry. Like many places in Norway, research into bands from the city tends to lead you down the death-metal, black-metal, symphonic-metal route, which isn’t really our area of expertise, but we did discover that Stavanger is home to excellently, over-the-toply named, gothic-metal heroes, Theatre Of Tragedy.
Sløtface formed back in 2012, and despite limited releases have slowly developed a reputation as a hardworking, hard touring band. They released their debut EP, We’re Just Ok, back in 2014, and have recently released the follow-up, Empire Records, through Norwegian label, Propeller Recordings. Their debut album should be due out in 2017.
Across their most recent release, the Empire Records EP, Sløtface deliver a series of fizzing, energetic pop-punk tracks. They fit neatly into the current UK climate, although they admit bands like themselves are far less represented in their native Norway, and they’re surprised at the positive reaction the UK has handed them.
What lifts Sløtface above the, “just another lo-fi garage band” tag that could come their way, is that they’re not afraid to twist the format and embrace ideas from elsewhere. The EP’s opening track, Bright Lights is lifted by chiming guitars that guide the listener into the same dream-pop territory of Hazel English. Elsewhere, the closing track Fever Art incorporates some beautiful ringing piano chords and a Honeyblood-like vocal that’s just a little slurred, like you’re getting a drunken late night phone call, from Haley as she reminisces about how she, “should have had more fun, have a little heartbreak maybe.”
Take Me Dancing is a deliciously catchy pop song, but best of all is the title track, Empire Records. An homage to their joys of record shops, and the escapism they can provide; as Haley puts it, “It’s pretty much a silly song about running away to dusty record stores when you’re sick of normal life.” Like the lyrics, this track is pure musical escapism, it somehow harks back to a simpler time, a period in your life when all you needed was a hook and a distortion pedal and the world just seemed a slightly brighter place.
There’s nothing particularly challenging or progressive here, but as a band who admit to a dislike of prog and a love of all things pop, that shouldn’t perhaps surprise anyone. If you’re in the mood for a simple thrill from a damn good pop-group, then Sløtface might just be the band for you.
Empire Records is out now via Propeller Recordings. Click HERE for all upcoming Sløtface live dates.