- 14 May 21
Matthews switches up his style with a more electronic album than ever before.
New Skin promised to be a change of pace from Scott Matthews' prior work, hence the title. It doesn't disappoint in that regard, with the Wolverhampton singer-songwriter experimenting with new sounds and instruments compared to his prior work on his self-released record. The past Foo Fighters collaborator was mainly known for his acoustic folk jams than what he serves up with his seventh studio album.
The album introduces itself to us with the opener and title track 'New Skin'. It's definitely some of the more interesting fare on the release, greeting us with an 808 drumbeat and keyboard synths. It's a far cry from the singer that emerged on the scene with Passing Stranger's acoustic folk back in 2006.
After a bit of a lull, in the middle portion, the release really picks up in pace and quality towards the latter half of the record, with standout tracks 'Our Time' and 'Intruders on Earth' providing the sonic dreamscape quality that his early work conjured. 'Autopilot', another highlight, delivers melancholy prose over soft synths and lovely guitar licks. The lyrics devastatingly recall feelings of loneliness, with Matthews narrating the subject of the song's desire to break free from the routine of these emotions.
At its best, New Skin gives you the sensation of drifting down a beautiful colourful river on a barge while a ballad serenades you to sleep. However, the more lackluster songs in the middle of the release offer up the same reality, but in a much less interesting fashion. This isn't the fault of the songs themselves but instead an issue to do with the album's tracklisting and the lack of variety in this section. Diehard fans of the singer will still likely find value in the whole of this album and due to the high quality of the better tunes, it's a decent introduction to his work for those unaware.
Overall, the album delivers what it promised, with Matthews trying out different sounds and attempting something unlike his prior work, which he should be truly commended for. It would have been straightforward for him to make the same album every few years and he took a massive risk with this record. The standout tracks make this a worthwhile effort and a decent exploration into '80s synth.
Marks: Seven out of ten.