21 April 2015

The Skints - FM


I really do not know much about this band; no disrespect to The Skints, but for years I have been woefully neglecting the genre of Reggae as a whole.  However recently I have been given various Ska and Reggae album by one of my friends, recently he suggested I listen to the latest album by The Skints.  This is the third LP from the London group and after a read up on them I have found that they are from North East London, have been together since 2005 and have basically toured around with basically everyone (Reel Big FIsh, Random Hand, Easy Star All Stars, amongst others).  I must admit that the packaging for this album is very classy, it just looks beautiful and their recent Record Store Day release of the album is one of the few I would have purchased.  But now it is time to see what the album is all about.....

The first track is one of the linking FM radio station interludes before it goes into the first track proper – “This Town” which also features Tippa Irie & Horseman supplying some of the vocals.  It is a love letter from the Skints to London, the vibe is loose but at the same time they sound as tight as ever; it is the perfect song to have on when the sun is shining (even when the rain is falling as it just brighten the day), it is a great opening track that take the spirit of London and turns it into music.  “In The Night” is the second track a heavy slice of dub which will light up any dancefloor or gig it is played at; it is a really heavy piece this one, with a full on guitar solo in the middle, a great mix of vocals and a bass line that will be playing in your head long after it has finished playing.  The beginning has a classic feeling like The Specials before everyone started to leave, the slow beginning just keeps creepy forward till it also speeding (by reggae/dub standards) and on repeat listening I have to say it is one of my favourite tracks of the album.  After this comes “Next To You” which comes across more light hearted, full of love and joy; the menacing tone of the other songs has dissipated and there is romance in the air.   It is a really nice song which ticks all the boxes for a reggae love song, it might be my thing if I am honest; never the less, it is still an entertaining number that has a charm about it.  However the love is quickly removed with “My War” which is a tale of a person who has the world against them, it feels as if the paranoia is creeping into the mind-set; or maybe the person that they are a bastard, it is another strong number that can viewed in both lights.  Musically it is strong and has all the classic dub tones and vibes.  If I have one criticism of it, I wish it was longer as it is over too soon – but that is me being greedy and does not detract from the fact that it is a brilliant song.

 

After another brief radio station clip about a phone in show which merges straight into the song “Friends & Business”; a cautionary tale about keeping business and pleasure separate at all costs.  It is a pumped up tune that bounces along very well and is performed incredibly well.  The minimal vibe of the tune is also very refreshing, there is little to no distraction on the song and it is a stand out track; also there is another killer solo and strange chorus shouting near the end which makes the tale of warning into a happy, bouncing number.  “Where Did You Go” is the eighth song on the album about a vanishing act that has happened and a person have gone missing; mostly due to their ego being bashed in one form or another.  This is quite a tender song and the band treat the subject very well.  It is not a fast page song by any means, but it is a beautiful and fragile one that sound as charming as a summer’s day with everything failing into place (albeit with a sense of loss to the edges – I never said it was a perfect summer’s day).  Afterwards we are introduced to “Tazer Beam” which has lots of synths noises and also features Tippa Irie appears on the album again. A common sense songs asking for people to take a deep breath before pulling out weapons, it is another great song with a positive message that shows that this band is as much about getting the community together as they are about anything else (it also features Rufus Hound at the end of the song doing another radio adverts, that was slightly unexpected and made me laugh).  “The Forest for the Trees” is a great dub number that takes its time to get somewhere, but it sounds brilliant getting there.  It keeps on the very good progress that has been made on this album.
 

Once more we have another radio advert which leads into the “Eyes in the Back of My Head” which features another guest vocalist in the form of Rival which is another tale of caution and lamenting slightly about how you have to step lightly and keep an eye on everything due to the gangs and culture of violence that is some estates where the band are from.  It is a shame that this sort of song has to be made, no-one wants to come from an area that has gone to shit in places; but this band holds an honest mirror to what they see and do not try to sugar coat it at all.  Whilst the song itself is really good, it is still a dark tale from this band.  The mood for the next song “Got No Say” is a reflective number about how life was and just wondering where you are going to end up.  It is not as dark as “Eyes in the Back of My Head” obviously and it is all about escaping that is going on around the band, it is also performed really well; it is once more a little short, but it is still a strong number that looks to both the past and the future.  There is one final radio advert and then we have the ending track which is called “Tomorrow”, this slowly things down and looks at the personal demons within the singer and his hopes of getting to the next tomorrow.  This is a great ending that shows the depth in the band and draws an interesting and thought provoking ending to the album.
 

This is a great album that is not just for the party, there is depths to this album which show some uncomfortable truths.  There is an angry to some of these number, a sense of wanting the community to come together and some love as well as some good times.  It does not say that the world is perfect, but there is still some hope in there; it might be fragile, but the fight for that hope is brilliant.  On a personal note, I do wish some of the songs were a little longer; but I am a man who can listen to songs that are basically an album each, so what would I know.  If you want something for that is going to challenge you as well as be the music for a good time, tune into Skint FM.  This is a contender for my own personal album of the year, it is that good.
 

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost.
 

Top track – The Forest for the Trees
 
You can purchase the album via Amazon here

You can visit The Skints website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

You can also listen to the album on Deezer if that is your streaming service of choice

If you are using the Tidal service, here is a link for you

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