In the three years since Slash Fiction, Yorkshire’s premier exponents of “queer emo noise,” released their last record, 2021’s Gender, Trauma and Friendship, the band have established themselves as one of the leading lights of UK emo. Fiercely independent, they ended up releasing that record themselves after a series of broken record label promises. Determined to avoid a repeat, its follow up, “We’ll Hold This Line Until Hell Freezes Over,” has been entirely self-funded and self-released in the best DIY punk tradition. Ian McKaye himself would be proud. They’re a band unwilling to compromise on who they are and what they believe in, and the resulting album is absolutely fucking brilliant.

Opener “We’ll Hold This Line” begins with a solitary twinkly guitar in much the same way as “Pick My Stitches” so brilliantly started the last record, and has echoes of The Hotelier’s An Introduction to the Album (the opener against which all others are judged). Again, the song builds slowly, with gang vocals to the fore and a defiant edge to the lyrics. “If it’s you and me and all of us together, they’ll never break us down” speaks to the power of the collective and the strength of community, and it’s a theme that permeates the entire record, from the use of old photographs of striking workers for the sleeve to the chorus of Catastrophising – “Give up, stay down, stop breathing, or get up, get mad, and get even.” It’s the importance of solidarity in the face of outright hostility from large sections of society and from government itself. Life’s shit and unfair and I’m scared, but if we stick together we can get through this.

But that’s not to say it’s ever po-faced and earnest. This is a FUN record, albeit an angry one too. And beyond all of that there’s hope. The Wonder Years are experts at this – telling you how hard life can be but giving you reason to carry on – and Slash Fiction here pull off the same trick.

Golden Hour is a summery pop hit in the vein of Alvvays or Camera Obscura (“Sometimes it’s like you can read my mind, and it feels nice to not have to hide,”) while Root and Fifth is an absolute banger about feeling insecure in one’s musical ability (“I’m starting to feel like a fraud more and more…and every bassline’s just a root and a fifth”). M18, M1, Parkway even manages to combine a beautiful love song (“Loving you cuts me open like the first sunny day in spring”) with a love letter to Sheffield – “I wasn’t born here, I hope I live here forever I hope I never get sick of first gear”. When the trumpet comes in it’s like The Song With The Wurlitzer and it’s simply gorgeous.

There’s some wonderful lowkey imagery on display throughout  (“All I need to shut out the noise is a can of Red Stripe in a basement” from Catastrophising, “A Lorde song playing too loud” from Golden Hour) as well as plenty of variety musically. Having three different vocalists helps, but it’s when they all sing together the magic really happens. Bear is a beautiful song about friendship and forgiveness that builds slowly until 2 minutes in the music all but stops and the band sing the chorus together. When everything kicks back in the song SOARS. I want to see this played live through dry ice and blinding lights and I want to sing back every word and I want to cry with joy while I’m doing it.  

This is a record that builds on everything that made the last one great and improves on it in every way. It also confirms Slash Fiction as one of the most important bands in the UK right now. They’re a band that represent the best of us, of what we COULD be. They won’t stop speaking out, they won’t be beaten down, and they continue to produce thrilling, uplifting music to soundtrack our lives. They’re surely destined to be cult heroes in the way that Johnny Foreigner and Los Campesinos! are and you can sign up right now – just give this wonderful, joyous, breathtaking and essential record a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.