18 October 2015

Matt Skiba and the Sekrets - KUTS

That cover is slightly strange, it is almost as if Matt Skiba is projecting his inner Joker with that photo, or maybe it is a tribute to the Damned or some other band.  It is certainly a striking image for this second album from one of his many projects - Matt Skiba and the Sekrets.  Matt Skiba is mainly known for being the front man of Alkaline Trio, recently he has been playing in Blink-182 as a temporary (or maybe permanent - nothing has been confirmed) replacement for Tom DeLonge.  This will be the first time I have listened to any of his music outside of Alkaline Trio so I am not too sure what to expect, as I begin this review; I imagine it will be songs that do not quite fit his main band, but that need to be heard as he is passionate about them.  Well, it is time to see how this album fits in the world.....

Starting off with one of those riff which are a signature of Mr Skiba, it is full of promise that you are about to have a new miserable experience that will have you smiling like a loon for days to come.  It is a tale of a broken relationship which is a theme for this album, it is a heartfelt anthem for the broken hearted which keeps the punk to a minimum as the acoustic guitar is the main instrument of the song.  Once you hear it, it will sink its hooks into your mind and you will find it hard to forget the song, it is so damn good.  "She Wolf" keeps on the good work of the opening track, it is another heart-breaking number that is a big part of the album.  It is a mid-paced number that does not extend itself too much, but it does not have to do as it is just a simple song about a broken heart trying to make sense of the world.  There might be song which stir the heart with greater passion, number that are more dynamic and tunes with could walk around this song - I know this, but whilst I am listening to this song I struggle to think of any other tune.  "Krazy" is a song fill of symbolism about a love ending and the destructive nature of a soul who cannot cope without his emotional support and falls to pieces without that special someone.  The song has been wrote one thousand times before, but that chorus has all the hallmarks of a classic.  It has a beautiful sense of lyrics, it a fantastic bridge and one of the best choruses I have heard for such a long time.  It also reminds me a little of the theme tune to the TV show Due South, no idea why but I cannot get an image of a Mountie out of my head when I am listening to it - strange what music can make you think about.

"She Said" is another song that reminds me of another pop culture, this time in the form of Austin Powers.  It is an argument in a song, with all those harsh words and accusations that are often thrown when they are not really meant to be said.  It is another decent number, it is a bit of a comedown after "Krazy" but it is still a decent number and it has a killer little solo in the middle of the song - all so groovy!  The charmingly titled "I Just Killed to Say I Love You" is next and it the song which sound the most like it should have been on an Alkaline Trio album, it is one that could have been beefed up a bit with a bit more of a kick in the guitar as it does remind me of the style of tunes that they wrote during their 'Crimson' period.  I know thinking that a Matt Skiba song sounds like it should be on an Alkaline Trio album is akin to thinking that the sun is really good at supply light for the planet, but it is the song on the album which feels more like his main band.  It is still performed really well, it feels stripped back and like it could have more behind it - wonderfully simple.  With a simple keyboard and 80's drum combo, "Way Bakk When" is the next song and it is another song that is focused on the ending of the relationships as the truth is finally unveiled to the world, it really has been done so many times before and it feels as simple as connecting a line from a to b.  But because it is so simple on the ear and in delivery, it gives it a deeper dimension that some other song cannot reach as they are over complicated.  It is the weakest track for me on the album, but I still love it (but more on that later).

The next song is called "Krashing" does the same as a lot of this album: It deals with the breaking down of a relationship in terms of sounding like a car crash, admitting that it is all a mess and trying to make sense of it all whilst pulling the pieces back together from the floor.  It is a song that feels as if it is missing something, not too sure what it is but it on its own it does not grow as much as other songs on the album.  Next is "Hemophiliak" which grabs the audience is taken on another heart-breaking anthem that reminds me of Due South (it must be the guitar tone), it also keeps the pattern of making misery sounds beautiful.  It creates an environment where all those dark thoughts take flight for a brief moment, there is a moment where people can relate to something in the song. It is another song that might have been done before, but I am still falling under its spell.  The penultimate song of the album is called "Never Believe" which makes the heart break once more with this song of unrequited love and being on the wrong end of that equation.  Whilst we have never really been that far away from the forefront of this album, but this one is a particularly bitter pill to swallow and it also another which feels strange when you are listening to it on repeat.  More on that later, but it is another number that makes this album so interesting.  Ending the album is "Vienna" and this breaks my heart even more than anything on this record, it sounds like the early morning heartache for everyone to hear.  It is a mixture of acoustic guitar and wonderfully simple synths, all laced with a song about following love to wherever it may be.  It ends the album on a simply beautiful number, misery is rarely as simple or as delicate.

Now it might seem I am harsh on this album by saying it is so simple and it has been done one thousand times, but it does have a much bigger plus point; what it lacks in terms of individual tracks it makes up for with the whole record.  Let me explain - when you listen to one track out of content, it can sometimes feel reduced in stature and not as strong as it could be - such as "I Just Killed to Say I Love You"; when the album is played in one glorious and melon collie blaze towards the sun (or the nearest dark corner), all the songs blend together and they sound magnificent.  It truly is an album that is the sum of all its parts which work so well together; when you have songs such as "Way Bakk When" which are brilliant but are the weakest on the album due to the quality, then you have a winner.  It obviously is going to be compared to Mr Skiba's other act which is a little unfair as it is a totally different beast, I think that this record to be one of the dark horse for album of the year for me.  It is not a perfect record in terms of single songs, but the resulting record is beautifully flawed and works on so many levels for me.  I love this record because it is something that people can relate to very easily, the songs all join together to make something that is more than you would expect and that is the sign of a great album.  If you want some company for your misery, please find your perfect companion.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Krazy

You can purchase one of the version of Kuts on Amazon here

You can follow their activities on Facebook here

You can stream Kuts on Spotify here

You can stream Kuts on Deezer here

You can visit the Matt Skiba and the Sekrets artist page on Tidal, it might be there but I cannot find it

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