Earlier in the Autumn, when the evenings were still balmy enough for us to hit the streets without donning the plethora of woollens and multitude of layers with which we are currently swaddled, Norwegian four-piece Sløtface took to the nocturnal streets of Bergen to shoot the video accompaniment to their latest single ‘Bright Lights‘.
Lifted from the EP, ‘Empire Records‘ itself just released on 18th November, the track is about escapism – escaping self and society. The song is written by frontwoman Haley Shea, who is to Norway what Grimes is to Canada and Ani DiFrancio is to the US. who gives an unusually restrained yet highly effective vocal performance with a much nuanced emphasis on the word “crushed” that hangs at the end of the chorus like a broken arm. Musically, this is Sløtface at their most understated. Intuitive guitars make a statement without being overpowering while the percussion takes on a more relaxed style. This is less punky, rriot, more Blondie style pop with its native intelligence.
The self-made Lasse Lokøy directed visual however, focusses its lens on an altogether darker subject – female vulnerability & safety. Just how safe the nocturnal streets of Bergen are is not known to me; what is known, and only too well, is how unsafe the streets of Dublin, city or urban, are for women at any time of the day or night.
Opening with scenes from a booze, music and fun filled gathering of friends, the mood of the film quickly shifts from relaxed gaiety to one of tense uncertainty, as the once crammed frame empties onto a deserted street, dark save for the street lights, desolate except for the lone female protagonist. What follows in this perceptively scripted and directed storyline, is an experience with which most of us females will be all too familiar.
The nervousness that automatically creeps in when we find ourselves walking alone at night. The sense of terror that screams inside when we suddenly find that we are not alone. The panic that sets in when a dark, hooded figure walks into our immediate space. The disgusted indignation and feeling of limp frustration at having to ignore midnight, booze-fuelled boors, spouting sexist claptrap dressed up as a neanderthal charm offensive, that rapidly turns into insults when their efforts go unheeded.
Walking with the phone on ‘dial-alert’. Bracing oneself with keys jagged to the ready. Taking to the middle of the street under some misguided impression that the midsection is safer than the side because “everyone can see me, right?”. Wrong.
We are not safe. Not safe from louts. Not safe from thugs. Not safe from bullies. Not safe from misogynists. Not safe from attackers, muggers, rapists, and murderers. We are women .. vulnerable, open to every form of attack from mental through verbal to physical. Welcome to our world.
Sløtface have been chugging out singles like JK Rowling spawns fantasies. The ‘Empire Records’ mini-compendium is the latest in the ever accelerating run up to their debut album, due for release in early 2017. In addition to their ever lengthening discography, the band have been speeding up and down the gig helter-skelter and not satisfied with having recently finished a whistle-stop tour of the UK, this hyper-energised bunch have just announced another week of UK dates running from 13th – 18th February.
‘Bright Lights‘ is available to stream/download here https://slotface.lnk.to/BrightLights & you can watch the band’s ‘on point’ awareness film right here.