Electric Slave feels more like an album whose creation was dictated by what the band didn’t want to do, resulting in some good songs but a forgettable record.

Recently, Black Joe Lewis said of this album’s title, “‘Electric Slave’ is what people are today with their faces buried in their iPhones and the only way to hold a conversation is through text. The next step is to plug it into your damn head.” Lewis has a point, but it’s sadly ironic that his group’s message for the masses to unplug themselves from their iPhones will mostly be heard by people on their iPhones.

Electric Slave suffers from this somewhat half-baked message, and resembles more a snake eating its own tail than it does a fully thought-out album on which soul and blues and punk mingle together harmoniously. It seems to be at war with itself, with songs hitting the right notes but never assembling into a cohesive collection in the process.

Instead, we are treated to a patchwork of distortion-soaked blues stompers (‘Skulldiggin’’, ‘Blood’); soulful hip-shakers (‘Young Girls’, ‘Golem’); and punk strut and swagger tunes (‘Guilty’, ‘Hipster’). Most of these are enjoyable listens, however the overall experience is hampered by a lack of direction that affects the flow of the album, leading to a lull halfway through. It’s down to Lewis’ admirable determination not to be pigeonholed into genre, nor to allow his group’s various musical influences to dictate the tone of the album one way or the other.

2/5 stars

By Daniel Prior

Electric Slaveis out now through Vagrant/Shock Records

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