Underwhelming return from punk firebrands.
Skids – formed in 1977 – were in at the birth of punk but never quite fit the spiky hair, bondage trousers and safety pin aesthetic. Purveyors of finely crafted rabble-rousing anthems, they had a brief run of chart success before splitting. Nearly 40 years since 1981’s Joy, Skids’ original lineup have reformed. Again.
Minus founding member Stuart Adamson, but augmented by his former Big Country band mate Bruce Watson, their fifth studio outing, Burning Cities, revisits territory explored on their earlier works. There are the familiar distorted guitars and whoa-oh-oh-oh backing vocals, and clarion calls-to-arms for a disaffected generation – even if they are now pushing retirement age.
Watson’s piercing bagpipe-tone guitar sound features prominently, notably on ‘One Last Chance’ and ‘A World On Fire’; thematically, there is a focus on war. It’s a lyrical obsession that Richard Jobson has returned to often. On ‘Subbotnik’, he growls that “War is peace and peace is war.”
Credit to Orwell for that one, but elsewhere on ‘Desert Dust’ he states – in less inspired fashion – that “I was going mad, I was going insane/Screams all around inside my brain.”
“In 1977, we were singing songs about what we saw as a world in crisis,” states Jobson in the press release. “Today that message is more relevant than ever.” I’m not so sure.
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