Label: Propeller Recordings
Released: 24th February 2023
‘AWAKE/ASLEEP’ is, somewhat appropriately given the EP’s title, a resetting of the clocks for Sløtface’s Haley Shea. Following the departure of bandmates Lasse Lokøy and Tor-Arne Vikingstad after a decade’s service, Sløtface is now, ostensibly, the vehicle for Shea’s musical endeavours.
But despite the turmoil, ‘AWAKE/ASLEEP’ does not reflect or embody this upheaval. Indeed, it’s a continuation of 2020’s ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’, marrying sharp pop-punk hooks with indie-pop accessibility. If anything, ‘AWAKE/ASLEEP’ sees Haley pushing the boundaries of what Sløtface can be in the future.
Crucially, however, even though ‘AWAKE/ASLEEP’ is billed as an EP, it’s a fully-formed eight songs rather than a tentative teaser. It would have been easier for Haley to dip a toe in the water of these possibilities to see what resonated, but the results are cohesive as a whole and perfectly realised individually. Haley has spoken about seeing this as a mixtape, and it’s a fair assessment – even if it doesn’t quite emphasise that every song has the quality of a lead single.
It means, at the one end of the spectrum, ‘Friday Nights’ is a mid-paced torch song, hauntingly stripped back and Sløtface’s most intimate song to date, with Haley’s vocals pushed to the fore, while at the other ‘HAPPY’ – which captures the feeling of joy and excitement that permeates the EP – is a high-quality punk blast and every bit as good as the likes of ‘Telepathetic’. Everything else on the EP exists between these pillars, but there’s no question that Sløtface are at their best when letting rip, like on ‘Come Hell or Whatever’.
‘AWAKE/ASLEEP’ had the potential to be a difficult transitional record for Sløtface, but instead it has served as an opportunity to redefine and re-evaluate what the project means to Haley. By redrawing the boundaries, she’s delivered an assured next step in the band’s evolution. ■ Rob Mair