Label: Narnack Records
Released: October 20, 2009
Trapped Animal is the first studio album from the Slits since 1981 and comes 30 years after the seminal punk/reggae fusion of their debut, 1979’s Cut. The passage of time and only returning with two-thirds of the band’s core (Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt) certainly give reason to be skeptical of a new album in 2009.
Even going in with doubts, the new album quickly establishes a winning presence. It retains the Slits’ natural mix of punk and reggae, but this time the former is a bit more angular and the latter closer to dub, giving things a tighter, more agitated energy. Occasional electro-pop and R&B infusions expand the album beyond the earlier albums’ limitations, few as they seemed to be at the time, yet Trapped Animal is possibly their most cohesive record. Most importantly though, the Slits maintain the straightforward lyrical honesty that has always made their songs easy to hold onto.
Worst case scenario would surely have been to simply go through the motions of rehashing their past. Not much better would have been to completely overhaul their sound, producing something that, while new, had little connection to their own roots. What the Slits have produced, however, is an album that shows that they hadn’t reached the end of the road when they broke up in 1982. In fact, Trapped Animal is very much on par with the now-acclaimed Cut and one of the best reunion albums I’ve heard.
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