Many genres rise and recede, but over the last 20 years London's Skunk Anansie have successfully strayed from the zeitgeist, occupying a perch of alternative rock which seems all of its own. After all this time “we’re still underdogs, still outsiders”, says the band’s iconic frontwoman, Skin.
Anarchytecture, their sixth studio album, draws from their previous two offerings Wanderluste and Black Traffic. Harnessing the former’s energy of regrouping after a nine-year hiatus and the latter’s exploration of the social and political worldviews they gained whist on tour, their latest LP is an amalgam of both.
Opener ‘Love Someone Else’ is post-millennial Skunk on their A-game - electronically-laced drums and venomous riffs, topped with a divine intervention of the soaring vocals we’ve come to expect from Skin. But a miracle album this is not.
The bluesy metal and loose funk of their formative sound gives way to what Black Traffic started: a more conventional, melody-driven rock. This feels like an own goal, serving only to disarm themselves from the weaponry which marked them out in the first place. Tracks like ‘Beauty is Your Weakness’ suffer from this approach, sluggish and uncomfortably predictable in arrangement.
‘In the Back Room’ treads a similar path, while ‘Bullets’ labours along with a tedious falling melody of woah-ing, the like of which transports you into the middle of a cliched festival sing-along.
However, there is no denying that Skin’s lyrics remain compellingly honest and call deeply to our more contemplative moments of solitude. No more so than ‘Death for the Lovers’ - a song about the purported euphoria experienced just before suicide. The same goes for ‘Without You’, a visceral blaze of love and yearning that is all-consuming.
There is plenty to enjoy here for new and old fans alike. And while the album feels somewhat dislocated from track-to-track, their message - and in pockets - their music, ignite the soul like they always have.
Skunk Anansie's upcoming tour dates are below. For tickets and more information, visit here.
Skunk Anansie will play:
Thu February 04 2016 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Fri February 05 2016 - LONDON O2 Forum