About 20 years ago, a fresh young Skunk Anansie mixed angry metal riffing and epic soulful female vocals to pioneer “clit rock” and achieve enviable levels of success. They were just radio-friendly, punk and original enough to make serious waves, headlining Glastonbury and selling a cool 5 million records.
Now they’re back with their third album since reforming in 2009 and, while naturally more mature sounding, much of what made them great is still there on this fine record, even if the edge that once made them so groundbreaking is conspicuously absent.
‘Love Someone Else’ opens proceedings and is probably the stand-out track, with a superb bass line driving the verses and a killer hook to the chorus, showing they can still deliver. The electronic elements bubbling beneath the surface give it depth, but that’s about as experimental as it gets.
The electronics crop up again on the vaguely industrial ‘Victim’ and on the dance groove of ‘In the Back Room’, though there are riffs aplenty with ‘Beauty is Your Curse’, the familiar grind of ‘Bullets’, and the punky ‘That Sinking Feeling’.
Although musically they are immense, showing their power on ‘Suckers!’, and ‘We Are The Flames’, Skin’s powerful vocals are what really define their sound and ice their cake. Her voice is simply impeccable, particularly on heart-wrenching tracks like ‘Without You’ and the dark ‘Death to the Lovers’ in which her “world goes crashing down to hell.”
So, what you get here is a strong record of well-crafted tunes from a hugely talented band. However, with every song being between three and four minutes and the feel of familiarity, one can’t help but feel that this once daring band have played it a little safe.
‘Anarchytecture’ by Skunk Anansie is released on January 15th on Spinefarm Records
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)