I was so excited to get sent this. Again, an element of nostalgia cannot be avoided.
I still have my copies of Stoosh and Paranoid and Sunburnt (on tape so I can’t play them on anything) but this isn’t a trip down memory lane. The energy of the album comes mostly from vocals which Skin delivers with such overwhelming sincerity and passion. None more so than on the final track, “I’ll Let You Down”. However, a flawless, and I do mean flawless vocal performance is not enough on it’s own to sustain an album. Though if it were, she’s one of very few that could do it.
It’s a comparatively slower album, and in places it can start to drag a touch. There are a few points that leave you expecting more, such as the opening track “Love Someone Else” and “In The Back Room”. Both left me thinking that something else was about to happen to break what I am afraid to say is a little monotonous at times. It’s like you’re waiting for a big break in to something else from the song that doesn’t happen. There’s not really a lot of substance to the latter. It does sound a little too much like filler. The one that follows it, “Bullet”, is almost the same, but it builds up aggressively and breaks the monotony and that aggression is most welcome. Not a moment too soon it gives way to a much needed boost of pace with the outstanding “That Sinking Feeling”. Wonderfully full-on, both musically and vocally highly energetic and – crucially at this point in the album – fast. They’ve also historically included a funk element in a lot of things, and on this album we get that in “Suckers!” which unfortunately isn’t long enough. The worst thing though is that this would have been perfect for a spectacular delivery of bonecrushing vocals put to a kick ass heavy, funky riff but it’s left devoid of any lyrics. One of the best riffs is restricted to an all too short instrumental. A missed opportunity I’m afraid.
Some might say that a writer for something called “power of metal” would naturally find the heaviest and fastest track on the album the most to his liking. Well as it happens they’d be right in this particular case, but that isn’t why I find the others harder to listen to. The slower songs are largely melancholy in nature, not just lyrical content but also musically. Where “Secretly” and “Hedonism” had sombre lyrics but an uplifting feel, that isn’t present on this album.
Overall it makes the tone of the album a sadder one, but the paradox is I’m fairly happy listening to it and I think a lot of others will be too. My advice would be to shuffle the tracks too, because the order they appear on the album is probably a lot to do with why it feels a bit sad.
Skunk Anansie are currently touring Europe.
1: Love Someone Else
3: Beauty Is Your Curse
4: Death To The Lovers
5: In The Back Room
7: That Sinking Feeling
8: Without You
10: We Are The Flames
11: I’ll Let You Down
Playing time: 37:42
Release Date: 15/1/16
Label: Spinefarm Records