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Back in 1995 British hard rockers Skunk Anansie pushed their way onto the scene with their incredible debut album Paranoid and Sunburnt. Amidst the unending Britpop bands of the time Skunk Anansie gave the British public a new face and sound to amuse their eyes and ears. Although they found themselves grouped in with all the other Britpop bands of the day, they were anything but, and they proceeded to bring about a musical direction all of their own. Their music has always been raunchy and at times controversial, with powerful vocals fuelled with angst and aggression, intertwined with heavy crunching guitars to give them a distinctive sound. After a reign of hugely successful albums and singles the band split in 2001, and each of the various band members went about trying to forge their own solo careers, but only with limited success in comparison. Despite this loss of the band their music still remained a firm favourite with its fans. Skunk Anansie reformed and made a reappearance in 2010 with their recent release Wonderlustre.
>> Band Members <<
The rock quartet comprises of the following band members;
>> Skin (Deborah Dyer) Lead Vocalist
With a voice that truly has to be heard to be believed, lead singer Skin is a masterful vocalist and has such a wide range in not only her tone, but also in the style of song that she can thrash out. Along with this, cleanly shaven-headed Skin has a very striking appearance, which during the quartets first emergence onto the musical scene gave the band a certain edge over their competitors, as not just her musical talents garnered her an attraction from fans and critics alike, but also a lot of fashion designers used her to exhibit their clothes due to her striking appearance. She is one of those few vocalists that has no flaws to her voice, as almost everything she sings just floats into your ear as gently as a butterfly, but with the power of a boxers punch.
>> Ace (Martin Kent) Guitar
Alongside Skin, guitarist Ace brings a great amount of the raucous edge and sounds to the band, he can quickly move from a heavier rocky tone to a soft sombre melody faster than you can blink. His style of playing is very free flowing and covers a diverse number of styles.
>> Cass (Richard Lewis) Bass
On all of Skunk Anansie's previous albums the bass sounds from Cass would come thumping through in a very clear way, they had a rather distinctive tone that perfectly framed Ace and Skin's parts to the songs of the band. After the band's split Cass went on to work with lead singer Skin on her solo album, following which he then went onto work with Gary Moore on his superb album Scars, before coming back with force for Wonderlustre.
>> Mark Richardson Drums
Mark Richardson's drumming may not be overly complex, however, his competent style of playing provides a great backing to the band which helps to complete their sound. Asides from Skin, Mark had the most prominent of careers after Skunk Anansie's original departure from the music scene, as he went on to replace the deceased Jon Lee as drummer for the band Feeder.
>> Musical Style
Lyrically their work revolves around two main themes, that being of religion and politics. Musically their sound is a concoction of pop and rock sounds that blend perfectly together. Their previous works have a distinctive sound with their trademark dirty grinding guitars, a strong drum line, overlaid with Skins flawless vocals. Skin has an incredible voice, which she can adapt for beautiful heartfelt songs and she can blast out angst filled angry vocals. She has fiery power behind her voice which she blends with soft gentle tones, her vocals are clear and clean yet she still manages to get the emotion through in her singing.
Skunk Anansie haven't released anything for a decade, so would their new offering lustre, or would it lacklustre?
>> Track Listing <<
>> God Loves Only You
The opener God Loves Only You is a promising start, as it follows a similar format to a lot of their previous works, however, the sound is slightly toned down. The melodic guitar rhythm paves the way, and Skins tantalizing voice is breathtaking, her tender vocals build in intensity, with the soft subtle verse being torn to shreds by the full throttle chorus screaming out at you. This track has that recognizable Skunk Anansie style we want to hear, and it certainly draws the listener in. This is an immense introduction to the album which sets the precedent of what's to come.
>> My Ugly Boy
My Ugly Boy was released as the lead single prior to the unleashing of its album Wonderlustre. It is a return to form, as the lyrical styling starts off almost identical to the song We Love Your Apathy from the album Stoosh, which gives it a familiar feel to it. This contemporary track manages to capture the quintessential sound of the band. It is a passionate energetic romp, Skin's powerful vocals are confident and assertive, and the distinctive grinding guitar riffs form the unique familiar sound that is Skunk Anansie. It is an energetic infectious number that shows us their new direction, and it lets us know what we are in for.
>> Over the Love
One of the great things about this band is the true power that Skin has to her voice, and this track really showcases the strength in vocal cords that she can belt out. Even with the full and exhilarating backing of the instruments behind her, they seem to stand little chance in overcoming her massive talent as a singer. However, even with the sheer strength of her voice there is still a great deal of raw emotion that carries along with it, almost to the point where it sounds like she is at a state of pure agony over the sadness of what she is singing about.
>> Talk Too Much
After the strength of the last track, the band take a much more relaxed approach to this song, even though there is an elevated section to the chorus line. Talk too Much has a much calmer feel to it than previous offerings on the album. Along with this, the inclusion of a string arrangement during the song gives the track a great scope in tonal ranges and fills the speakers with sound on every level. Skin's superlative vocals are soft, smoky and fragile, her voice is mesmerising in this beautiful melodic composition.
>> The Sweetest Thing
Ace's guitar rings out nice and clearly during the songs intro with Skin punctuating it with a rather brazen sounding vocal line. The Sweetest Thing has a nice catchy little hook line chorus to it, with multiple vocal lines intertwining with one another throughout the chorus. The track is an energetic rock affair, although it is quite dissimilar to their previous works, it has a more toned down style.
>> It Doesn't Matter
After the slightly easier sounds of the previous three tracks, Cass and Ace crank up the distortion and prepare to rock the house once again. It Doesn't Matter chugs along quite nicely with Skin's vocals dancing over the top quite effectively. The song as a whole has a very funky feel to it, almost having a sort of two tone Ska sound to it, in a similar manner to the rockier tracks from the band No Doubt. This track sees the band go back to their roots as it encapsulates elements from all of their sounds and it brings them together for this almost metal number.
>> You're Too Expensive
Continuing on in a similar styling to the previous track, You're Too Expensive starts off with a rather punctuated manner from the guitar and bass, this style, however, is broken up with a number of more frantically paced all guns blazing sections to the track. All the time Skin's lyrics resonate over the top of the instruments, but still maintain a clear cut sound to them, as each and every word is perfectly formed.
>> My Love Will Fall
As a break from proceedings, this track takes the album into a softer and more subtle area in regards to the musical styling and vocal levels, however, a lot of the weight is carried in the actual lyrical content. My Love Will Fall is a heartfelt affair; the sinister guitar leads the way for Skin's emotive vocals which build in intensity as the song progresses.
>> You Saved Me
While the previous track brings the tone of the album down to a quieter place, this is the true ballad of the album. As always, the sheer tonal range of Skin is immense within You Saved Me. It is very clear to see just why she is considered by many to be such a prominent vocal talent within the rock industry. One of the great things about Skin's vocals is the ability that she has to invoke a massive amount of passion and emotion into any style that she takes part in, as this song shows quite effectively with the quietened intro of the song building up gradually to the heart wrenching middle of the track.
>> Feeling The Itch
After the brief melodic section of the album the grinding guitar, thumping bass and heavy drums come back in with vengeance, and lift the whole mood of the album back up again. Although we see the rest of the band cranking in the distortion through the majority of Feeling the Itch, Skin's vocal line is strong and assertive and it still easily flies above it all with not a quiver in her voice, even during the high pitched lyrics of the song.
>> You Can't Always Do What You Like
A true showing of how good a vocalist a band contains is during those points of an album where it is just their voice carrying the song with little or no backing to it, and the starting verse of this tracks illustrates this perfectly for Skunk Anansie. Skin's voice once again remains faultless throughout the performance, and is given a great lift during the chorus sections as her voice flows into an almost ethereal tone and lends a great deal to this track.
>> I Will Stay But You Should Leave
Every good album needs a track that leaves the listener wanting more at the end, and the calmed and almost friendly sounding I Will Stay But You Should Leave manages this amazingly. It contains just the right blend of uplifting ranges in the vocals combined with some wonderfully relaxed backing beats to give the album a well polished conclusion.
>> It Lustres, did you ever have to Wonder? <<
When the news of a return of Skunk Anansie came about my heart leapt, as I would soon be able to add to my then complete Skunk Anansie collection and increase my musical enjoyment for this remarkable band. Although there has been no new material from the rock quartet in 10 years, I haven't yearned for more, as I have always been satisfied with the previous three albums that they had produced; they have been firm favourites of mine over the years. Skin is probably one of my favourite female vocalists, as her voice is perfect, she is so talented, and her vocal range is impressive. I never tire of listening to the same albums over and over as they are incredible, and they are quite different to any other band I listen to. However, I was eager to hear their new album Wonderlustre.
On first listen I was taken aback, as Skin's powerful angst ridden vocals had dropped away and in place was a more soulful and passionate vocal line that has a soft edge to it. My immediate impression was a bit uncertain, as I like my music loud and aggressive; the rockier side to Skunk Anansie has always been the part of them that I prefer. However, Wonderlustre starts just how it should, with a good healthy dose of it. Although the overall feel of the album is much softer in sound, the intensity is still there. Upon first listening, you feel like you have been reunited with an old friend, the sound is still undeniably recognisable, however, it has just moved forward in time to give it a contemporary edge, and it works well.
After listening to the album in its entirety I was able to appreciate it for what it was, a soulful uplifting masterpiece. While Paranoid and Sunburnt, and Stoosh remain firm favourites of mine, Wonderlustre ranks highly alongside them. Skin's voice just takes over you, it is awe-inspiring. Wonderlustre has a more refined sound to it, there isn't as much urgency and angst in Skin's delivery, however, the same intensity, passion and power is still there. Her soulful voice in Wonderlustre is incredible; it really showcases her talents as a sublime singer. Skin's captivating voice encapsulates and takes over you; it is evocative and just as powerful, just in a different way to her previous work. It's fresh, it's new, it is a masterpiece in its own right, and it follows on perfectly from their previous works.
All artists need to experiment and change direction, some do it with success while others fall flat. After a long break from the musical scene Skunk Anansie have creatively adapted their sound and style to bring it forward, their sound has progressed in the right direction, their new album has a contemporary feel to it; but it still has all the elements that make this band successful. The album may have a lighter calmer feel to it; however, it still has a unique raunchy sound that is just as powerful as their earlier works. Each and every word is delivered with passion, the music is first rate, the sound is tight, and the musicianship is solid. Their sound has been refined in Wonderlustre, Skin's talents are showcased, as her vocals throughout the album show us what a truly talented singer she is. The band has created a fantastic offering in Wonderlustre.
This is an easily accessible album that will appeal to a wider audience, as it is more toned down than their previous offerings. Fans may not be immediately impressed; however, diehard fans will be pleased with this album, as it is a stunning success. Skin's voice is still incredible, powerful, and infectious, and Skunk Anansie certainly haven't lost their edge!
Paranoid and Sunburnt 1995
Post Orgasmic Chill 1999
Smashes and Trashes 2009
01. God Loves Only You
02. My Ugly Boy
03. Over The Love
04. Talk Too Much
05. The Sweetest Thing
06. It Doesn't Matter
07. You're Too Expensive For Me
08. My Love Will Fall
09. You Saved Me
10. Feeling The Itch
11. You Can't Always Do What You Like
12. I Will Stay But You Should Leave
~For your listening pleasure~
My Ugly Boy Official Music Video:
Over The Love Official Music Video:
Skunk Anansie - Wonderlustre
Co-founder members of the revolutionary Brit-pop/indie scene of the mid nineties, Skunk Anansie, blessed with a more rock based appeal were to craft their art, against the likes of Oasis, Blur and Pulp, with such commercial and worldwide success, spanning over seven years and selling multi-platinum albums, Skin and Co, brought pleasure to many with such electrifying drum lines, in your face angst, excitement and controversy with such politically charged lyrics. Forming in 1994, Skin (a.k.a. Deborah Dyer), a mercurial, bald headed, black, pop princess, along with Cass (Richard Lewis), Ace (Martin Kent) and drummer Mark Richardson, were to create a cult following, before deciding amicably and quietly in 2001 to quit and disband. Thankfully, 2009 brought a rise to prominence for the quartet once more; as they decided to reform and create their fourth studio album Wonderlustre, which was released September 2010, proceeded by lead single 'My Ugly Boy'
If you've never come across Skunk Anansie before, or don't recognise their name, singles such as 'Hedonism', 'Weak' and 'Brazen' were three of their more influential, infamous songs, and archetypal to the sound Skunk Anansie behold. Take a look at the links below to appreciate their sound...
1 GOD LOVES ONLY YOU (3.48) - Quite a soothing opener, much more melodic and smoother than their original sound, the verses rely on a feathered drum line, and gentle throbbing bass, to a much tighter, smoother vocal from Skin, at her best here, I'd say, really soulful. The chorus takes a totally different tact, the tempo is increased dramatically, it's urgent and energetic, but not really in your face, like days gone by! The bass runs the show throughout, it's pretty and moody at the same time, giving you a feeling of reflection, personally, I think this is a cracking opener to the album, Indie with a little soul attached, definitely an album track, but I love it. 2 MY UGLY BOY (3.27) - Lead single from 'Wonderlustre' and the only one to be released thus far. It's in keeping with the tempo of the opening track, but It's much more rock natured, leading from the front with a kicking drum line, and some sumptuous riffs that dazzle, it's rhythmical and infectious, that grows throughout the track. It's driven along viciously but with a slow natured tempo, aggressive, but not near in your face. Skin's tones are as good as the opener, and much more improved since her hiatus. It's a repetitive and catchy, and lyrically pretty tight, the
3 OVER THE LOVE (3.27) - 'You can bite, the fist that feeds you / lose your fight with some scars / you defend spilling blood and rain let it ride...right' ..This one takes time to grow, but once the sun has took it's toll, and the rain has dispersed, opens up a flower of such pretty, pretty standards, it's brash, glorious, and incessant beats, have you thumping your feet to the blistering core of the song, full of energy, urgency, heavy riffs, interlocking with some thrashing bass and developing drum lines. Skin mixes her voice up beautifully, almost falsetto at times, mixed with a little angry for good measure, poignant, but not the completed article. 4 TALK TOO MUCH (3.20) - 'I can leave but I stay to pray / maybe on my knees you'll fail / no one moved so no one got hurt / this could be the day that you'll learn...today' ..Calming back down dramatically, for this heartfelt ballad, dawdling drum line, crossed with an erotic staccato poky riff, before we lay into the chorus, which takes revenge with some seriously sexy vocals, fused with the progressive but more urgent arrangement. It's typical hi-low theme works throughout, it's mixed up and tantalising, giving an array of feelings for the listener, a proper Indie ballad here, effortlessly pretty.
5 THE SWEETEST THING (3.38) - 'You have the floor but once upon a time you had more / You shake, you shout, but somewhere you got smothered in doubt...come on / Don't burst them seams there's nothing wrong with living the dream / cos you just have to know'...Electric spangled riff to kick us into temporary explosive territory, layered with a throbbing bass, and electric guitars, that are played over the ever decisive booming drum line. The chorus speeds things up once more with overlapping vocals to change the texture, it's quirky, vibrant and challenging. Possibly one of the weaker tracks on the album for me, it just feels overloaded and top heavy, lacking the composure and subtlety of previous tracks, the middle eight stands out for me, with even a slight hint of a slide guitar, a fair effort this, but an album track nevertheless. 6 IT DOESN'T MATTER (2.46) - 'It doesn't matter that you think I will loose / It doesn't matter that you think I'm your fool / Invisibility won't rupture my soul / a little quality will swallow you whole'...Staccato riff, bounds us from the off, to brash vocals from Skin, it's quite stark, aggressive, and stripped back. The chorus is more of the same just at a higher, incoherent tempo, that lacks any really justification, quality. To be fair it breaks from the norm, and mixes the album up, but it lacks any charisma. The opening riff, that re-appears later on, is the only bright note, from a rather bland, unbalanced throb.
7 YOU'RE TOO EXPENSIVE FOR ME (2.29) - 'Your face is illegal / Your talk is just class / You kiss me with vengeance / To sweet to unmask / Still all of our issues / Won't smother in bed / So our little devils / Run riot instead' Working the bass again from the start, it's furious, up-tempo and buoyant. Has a rock theme again, Skin's vocals are largely lost to the over bearing instrumentals. The middle eights are pretty special, and the only real highlight of this short little romp. Quite fiery, but nothing special enough to stand it in front of it's peers. 8 MY LOVE WILL FALL (3.56) - Chiming riffs, and booming bass lead this ballad throughout, to some husky, soulful tones. It's slow and passionate in the first few verses, that's builds edgily. The chorus, sadly, is the weak link, it's flat and loses it's vigour. I've mixed feeling to this, it has good and weak parts, I think as an instrumental alone, it would be fantastic, as the thumping bass is sumptuous, and the tingling chiming riffs, just ooze class.
9 YOU SAVED ME (3.38) - 'I've been looking through my mirror / With somebody else's eyes / You broke me down / You fixed my blood stained pride' ..Another Indie-esque ballad, full of chiming staccato riffs, and delicate, heartfelt singing. An over-lapping feathered drum line, adds to the subtlety the tracks beholds, to which the tempo rarely changes, even for the chorus. It's slow, methodical, pretty, but also lacks any real bite, to make it memorable, or anything other than another album track. 10 FEELING THE ITCH (3.06) - 'I wanna sanctify your life / Be pure empathy / I'm wanna burn inside your mind' The tempo changes up once more, as we enter back into the realms of driving rock, tempered by pinging riffs, that are jazzed up for the chorus, which speed slightly. It's of simple composition, that feels old school Indie, it rarely gets out of second gear to be honest, it becomes a little monotonous, saved really by Skin's ability to shift her voice, more middle of the road stuff I'm afraid, easy street, nothing ground breaking. 11 YOU CAN'T ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU LIKE (3.31) - The Who type intro, well it lasts all of five seconds, this melodic, smooth number, appreciates Skin's voice more than any other, it's self assured, pretty. Another ballad-esque number, that's rather subtle and restrained throughout, middle eights used to appease the usage of a real chorus. It's seems a little lacklustre, no bite or verve to really keep you that interested, not really something you'd expect from Skunk Anansie. 12 I WILL STAY BUT YOU SHOULD LEAVE (3.58) - Another ballad to finish, but this has much more passion involved, Skin's voice assured once more, heartfelt, and yearning. Choral like backing vocals, throughout the chorus and second bridge gives an emotional twist, to a fairly stripped back, soothing textured song.
Following such a long hiatus, Skunk Anansie would surely have transformed to meet the market demand? Indeed the quartet has transformed from their angst filled rage, to a more polished, skilful adaptation to their artistry, they've not lost such intensity or flair, but the bruising, chaotic-ism they brought, has largely been left in 2001.
What made Skunk Anansie such a force was the ability to blend from aggression to vulnerability in a single song, those days have been superseded, but it doesn't lessen their appeal. Instead, they developed intelligently, focusing more lyrically and coherently.
Yeah, they have lost some of the pounding drum lines, quirkiness and passion, but it's been replaced by much more guile and thought. After all, development does have to take place, and a maturity hopefully reaches every band, which it appears to have here.
Lyrically and musically, it's much more developed, the table has brought insight and thought provoking lyrics, a clear change of attitude has formed Skunk Anansie from a once angry, fuelled protesting anti official, knock the government, to an almost happy, affectionate twist, as though they've reached the other side, with nothing to prove anymore, except exploring new avenues, leaving the past, way, way behind.
Skin's vocals, are much more assured, maybe down to the ability to know they've succeeded, or just through age and maturity, I don't know, but she saunters through certain songs with dignity, flair whilst oozing appeal.
The album is largely effective, and joyous, however it has it's weak points, the middle section of the album gets lost somewhat, it fails to inspire, and feels a little like going through the motions, even though it has it's quirks, it loses it's Indie roots, which is what I've come to love about Skunk.
Indeed, there are high points, most notable the first three or four tracks, but to put it in comparison to former glories, you'd possibly be a little disappointed, the album is engaging enough, but often loses it's way, with rather run of the mill songs, that lack inspiration, or drive, from what they've aspired to in the past. To some, that may not be a bad thing, and largely it isn't, it's just different and more controlled.
What the album does lack though, is something that really stands out, possibly only the opening two titles have any mainstream appeal, it's focused more as an album, that a set of songs to party wildly too at any given concert. Having said that, the bass throughout is second to none, and a major plus.
Hardcore fans will obviously be engaged by this new sound, but if you're expecting the old Skunk Anansie, then you may feel dismayed. Personally, if track one, wets your whistle, then I'd recommend you give the whole album a chance, otherwise it's probably not for you. I'm reluctant to compare such a band to their contemporise, as their sound is largely independent, after all, how many lead singers in a rock and roll / Indie band are female? You don't often find such ferocity and venom from a female singer such as Skin. Having said all that, Indie fan's will largely be happy with this latest offering, it's wound down a little, diluted you could say, but it still has broad appeal to the masses.
Overall, I quite like the album, it has many positives, but equally nearly as many negatives, I'd certainly listen to it again, and on reflection, possibly my disappointment only comes, due to nothing standing out from the crowd, it's a welcome back from me, but I feel it could have been so much more refined.
Priced at £8.99 on Amazon, but bear in mind it's just been released, so no doubt will be reduced soon! However, amazingly for four pence less, you can get the CD plus a DVD, makes no sense to me either, although prices are always changing. Mp3 version of the album is available for £6.99 or 79 pence per track. And for collectors out there you can also purchase this fine album on Vinyl for a reasonable £16.99.
Formed in 1994, Skunk Anansie are one of the UK's most successful indie Rock bands, having spend more than one-hundred-and-fifty weeks on the British single and album charts. Lead singer 'Skin' (real name Deborah Dyer) is famed for her shaven head and frequently aggressive vocals, the combination of which make her a formidable leading lady. Although I wouldn't class myself as a *massive* fan of the band, I do own all of Skunk Anansie's albums, and appreciate the group's raw energy and ability to create catchy licks. Released last month, 'Wonderlustre' is the band's first studio album since their reformation last year (after an eight year hiatus) - but is the dynamism which presented itself as energetic and carefully crafted music still present? - let's find out...
THE TRACKS - twelve songs equating to thirty-eight minutes of rock
Opening track 'God Only Loves You' sets the tone beautifully - delicate yet fast paced with an impressive chorus. Skin's vocals are restrained yet emotional, effortless sweeping across the aural spectrum. The song utilises a Muse-like synth array just after the chorus which helps to provide it with a powerful and industrial-postapocalyptic feel. Overall, the first song on the album is a definite grower, and becomes very catchy by the third or fourth listen - "His men have taken, all the jewels you gave him, you're sweatin' shakin', cos your God loves only you". As Wonderlustre's first designated single, 'My Ugly Boy features' a straightforward rock beat, which in combination with the bassline, produces a backing which would sound at home on a U2 track (perhaps the result of influence from the days when the two bands spent time together on tour). Of course, when Skin's vocals are added to the mix, the end result is edgier that anything that U2 could dream to produce, and overall it's an accessible and energetic track - "And I know what I'd like to do, take him down and make him crawl, yeah I know how I'd like to roll, my ugly boy".
Third Track 'Over the Love' is slower paced and softer than the first two offerings - the verse built around gently strummed and picked electric guitar. I personally find the track to be a little bland, slightly generic and too mainstream for my liking. That said, like the opening two songs, the quickly building and catchy chorus helps drag the track up from mediocrity - "You can bite the fist that feeds you, lose your fight with some scars, you defend spilling blood and rain, let it ride". Continuing the lighter touch, 'Talk Too Much' harks back to the frequently balledic early days of Skunk Anansie, where softer and beautifully constructed numbers were commonplace - the song is at its peak with a great guitar riff that runs in harmony with the vocals during the latter stages of the chorus, great stuff! - "Maybe I should be more discrete, serve you up some sugary sweet, I could be the wildest of childs, that's not a real feat...".
Not to be confused with the U2 song of the same name, 'The Sweetest Thing' is a wonderfully constructed song which comprises pitch-perfect and powerful vocals. The track is probably my favourite on the album, which is a little strange, as it's usually the rock-pop crossover tracks that I strive to avoid. The song feels really familiar to me, but I can't for the life of me work out why - "You have the floor but once upon a time you had more, You shake, you shout, but somewhere you got smothered in doubt...come on". Following The Sweetest Thing is anther cracking and instantly likeable track in the form of 'It Doesn't Matter' - this contemporary sounding song brings forth a frequently distorted guitar sound which is frequently heard in the work of The Kaiser Chiefs. It Doesn't Matter features a punky vibe which seems to perfectly suit the energy transferred through Skin's voice - "You burned your bridges yet you come back for more -Why oh why is this killing me? could it be that this thing isn't over?".
Earlier in the review I mentioned the fact that 'My Ugly Boy' featured a bassline which reminded me of U2 - well, the bass heard throughout the early part of 'You're too Expensive for Me' is very Red Hot Chili Peppers in both tone and direction, as heard in their later, more mainstream albums. In my opinion, the song marks a slight downturn in quality for the album as a whole, as this and a few of the following tracks are a little unmemorable - "I feel apprehension, and feeling it hard, you got me in troubles, they're kicking my heart". Opening with a mimimal vocal and bass combo 'My Love Will Fail', uses a Phantom of the Opera-like hook at the end of every line leading into the chorus - strange but effective, and Mr Lloyd Webber will be undoubtedly too scared of Skin to sue ;) The chorus itself isn't especially brilliant, but the song as a whole is perhaps most like the Skunk Anansie as seen on 1997's 'Stoosh' album - "Begin again, revive the dead, all quiet, all calm, your game has gone".
As one of Wonderlustre's more uplifting numbers, 'You Saved Me' is a delicate song which brings with it a fragility to the vocals. The track seems especially heartfelt, although it's not particularly my cup of tea - too much like a soppy Robbie William number for my liking (sorry to offend all you big fans of the band!) - " I've been looking through my mirror, with somebody else's eyes, you broke me down, you fixed my bloodstained pride". 'Feeling the Itch' cranks up the guitars once more, and injects an amount of passion back into the album. I didn't particularly like this song at first, but it has certainly grown on me over time. Another track where Skin's shows her vocal range, and her voice sounds great during the chorus - a decent song - "Feeling the itch, it's making me sad, feeling it burn inside my head".
From a vocal perspective, penultimate song 'You Can't Always Do What You Like' is an impressive offering, frequently soaring during the (fairly repetitive) chorus. Unfortunately, the song as a whole isn't especially worthy of the vocal performance, and it's not something that will remain on my iPod - "I feel emotion, messing around in my hair, obscene devotion, chasing me back to your bed". Beginning with a minimal vocal and guitar section before percussion is eventually introduced, final track 'I Will Stay, But You Should Leave' is a fitting close to the album - not so much a rousing finish, but a thoughtful and moving song which is easy to like - "I see you, don't see me, nothing burns like your empathy"
FINAL WORD - a welcome return for Skunk Anansie, or a disastrous comeback?
Overall, Wonderlustre *is* an impressive album - perhaps slightly more accessible than the band's previous work, although in hindsight, Skunk Anasie weren't ever that inaccessible to begin with. What I especially appreciate is the fact that the band haven't tried to reinvent themselves, as is often the case following a prolonged period away from the limelight. As a result, Skunk Anansie have managed to create a flowing collection of honest rock songs that for the most part really deliver. My favourite track is 'The Sweetest Thing', which works well on all levels, and can be viewed via the following link
Yes, the final half of Wonderlustre isn't as good as the opening, but there are enough decent songs packed into the album to justify the purchase. Out of the twelve tracks, I would class seven as quality offerings, and that's certainly good enough for me. It was noted that the band had a pool of over fifty new tracks to choose from for the album, and for the most part good selections were made. As a body of work, Wonderlustre isn't as aggressive as some of Skunk Anansie's previous work - but this doesn't make it any less good - it's arguably more of a mature offering which feels fluent and polished. At the end of the day, i'm happy to award Skunk Anansie four dooyoo stars for a successful return to the limelight with their latest offering - full of energy and emotion, highly recommended.
ADDITIONAL INFO - the full track listing
1. 'God Loves Only You' - 3:49
2. 'My Ugly Boy' - 3:28
3. 'Over the Love - 3:28
4. 'Talk too Much' - 3:21
5. 'The Sweetest Thing' - 3:39
6. 'It Doesn't Matter' - 2:47
7. 'You're too Expensive for Me' - 2:29
8. 'My Love Will Fail' - 3:56
9. 'You Saved Me' - 3:39
10. 'Feeling the Itch' - 3:07
11. 'You Can't Always Do What You Like' - 3:32
12. 'I Will Stay, But You Should Leave' - 3:56
PRICE & AVAILABILITY - the cost and the purchase options
Although prices can vary greatly from retailer to retailer, Skunk Anansie's Wonderlustre can currently be purchased in CD form for £8.95 from amazon.co.uk (it comes with a bonus DVD featuring a 'making of' the album, a short feature about Skunk Anansie on tour, and a music video and subsequent making of the 'My Ugly Boy' track). For those of you who prefer to download your music, the album costs £7.99 from the iTunes store, and it comes with a bonus track entitled 'Would You?'. Individual tracks from the album can also be downloaded from iTunes at a cost of 79p each.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 God Loves Only You
2 My Ugly Boy
3 Over The Love
4 Talk Too Much
5 The Sweetest Thing
6 It Doesn't Matter
7 You're Too Expensive For Me
8 My Love Will Fall
9 You Saved Me
10 Feeling The Itch
11 You Can't Always Do What You Like
12 I Will Stay But You Should LeaveDVD Tracklist TBC
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 The Making Of Wonderlustre - DVD Track
2 Skunk Anansie On The Road – Festivals 2010 - DVD Track
3 My Ugly Boy – Video - DVD Track
4 The Making Of My Ugly Boy - DVD Track