The Slits' place in pop history was assured by 1979's seminal Cut, with its fusion of punk, reggae and teenage vocalist Ari Up's spiky neo-feminist manifestos. No surprise, then, that the group hasn't drifted far from that blueprint for their first album in 28 years. In the current era of politically untroubled pop, it's fairly bracing to hear them castigating "Men who need us to be their mother, or who hate us because of their mother" within the first minute. Up's German-Jamaican patois still sounds youthful, and bassist Tess Pollitt's dub rhythms still vibrate with reggae power. But with the duo augmented by newer, young female musicians, a more playful approach hits and misses. Only the most purist Riot Grrrl would sing ghastly primitive punk Reject from the rooftops, but Babylon and Partner From Hell offer convincing heavy dub. The surprise success is Cry Baby: so sweet and airy it could be Lily Allen.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author