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(Spinefarm Records)
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Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

skunk anansie

UK rockers Skunk Anansie's star burned brightly but briefly through the nineties with three successful albums and a string of high profile tours. They broke up in 2001 only to reform in 2009 and 'Anarchytecture' is their third release since getting back together.

It is surprising to me that a band with such a high profile in their heyday have somehow remained under the radar during their comeback. Eight years is obviously a long time in the music business.

In their original incarnation lead singer Skin spat out her anger and frustration at the unfairness and inequality in the world with real venom but the band had a real knack of hanging some really good songs around it. Everyone mellows out over time though and Skin showed a more reflective side to her personality on the solo albums she released after the original break up.

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'Anarchytecture' kind of sits somewhere between the two styles, the rage and anger is tempered and more subtle and the sound often has an electronica sub text to it more than harnessing fiery blasts of guitar. It's not that they can't rock any more, just that they have chosen not to for the most part.

'Love Someone Else' is really a pop/rock crossover in style but a very good one that sticks in the memory while 'In The Back Room' starts off gently but gathers a sense of urgency riding along on its smooth beat to a rousing denouement. 'Bullets' tries a similar trick but the execution is a bit more clumsy and basically it's just not as good a song.

'That Sinking Feeling' ups the tempo and the rock element but the guitar sound is quite polite and the vibe isn't really very convincing. 'Without You' is a more gentle, emotive song with some beautiful vocals, atmospheric touches of keyboards and guitar and a chorus just big enough to fit the vibe.

The rockier side of the band surfaces again in the riff heavy groove of 'Suckers' and the martial stomp of 'We Are The Flames' but it's pretty obvious that the more reflective side of the band is where they are most comfortable now.

Final track 'I'll Let You Down' shows this off in spades with a totally authentic vocal from Skin in a haunting tale of guilt and loss.

There is much to enjoy here, especially in the song writing side of things but this is a totally different Skunk Anansie in style from the one I remember from the nineties and they sound like they are still trying to work out who they are.

The result is a patchy album with many surprises, some pleasant, others not so much. Definitely worth checking out and making up your own mind about if you were a fan first time around though.

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