Album Review: SKUNK ANANSIE ‘Black Traffic’

skunk anasieThe opener of Black Traffic, ‘I Will Break You’, kicks in immediately: there is no preliminary build-up here, just an assault from the get-go. The vocals of frontwoman Skin are unpolished, but complement the furious guitar-hammering excellently. Howling like a woman possessed, the album at first feels more like a live performance than a meticulously produced studio album.

‘Sad Sad Sad’ begins with the promise of a dark and filthy glower ballad, and the repetitive hook is catchy, but the song ultimately comes across as somewhat clinical and contrived. ‘I Hope You Get To Meet Your Hero’ slows the pace of the album, but its coupling of melancholy violins with the predictable lyrics about tearing out hearts and other dreadfully melodramatic themes, makes the song sound like some god-awful neo-goth ballad throwback.

‘I Believed In You’ is, again, very average; you can’t say it’s a bad song, but nor can you say it’s good; the damning hallmark of a filler track, something that this album seems to be largely comprised of. ‘Satisfied’ uses some interesting textures but keeps returning to the rather lacklustre formula that the band, for reasons known only to themselves, seem to utilise on essentially every song of this album.

‘Our Summer Kills the Sun’ is, to be blunt, terrible, which may sound crude but if you actually hear the song, you will probably find this sentiment to be generous. It’s another attempt at a pained power ballad but the effect is rather less heart-rending than it is ear-rending.

The band seem to have discovered reverb about three-quarters through the album, and make sure the listener knows it. By the time we reach ‘Sticky Fingers in Your Honey’ the album pretty much resembles an amorphous musical aggregate of wobbly guitars, banal lyrics and unoriginality.

Unsurprisingly, Black Traffic carries on unredeemed in this manner through till the end, which is mercifully arrived at in just under 36 minutes.