Skunk Anansie – Black Traffic (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
SKUNK Anansie are determined to rock your socks off with fifth album, Black Traffic, which hits the ground running and barely pauses to catch breath.
There’s an anger and sadness to it, too, born out by song titles including I Will Break You, Spit You Out and Our Summer Kills The Sun. But while there are some moments that exhilarate and even give pause for reflection, the album as a whole is perhaps a little too hectic. It’s fast, furious and infuriating for a lot of the time.
The hard rock opening of I Will Break You lays the template with crunching, big ‘80s style riffs combining with a siren-like vocal from Skin, while Sad Sad Sad comes over as a Marilyn Manson meets Slade chant-along. Yet for all its pent-up energy, it lacks a killer touch.
Rather, the album is better when taking its foot off the pedal slightly, or even completely. Evidence of the former is apparent on the no less angry Spit You Out, which builds from a subtle, electronic opening, into a work of euphoric fury.
As Skin declares “I can’t spit you out, I can’t suck you out” over powerhouse guitars and pounding drums, the track genuinely does exhilarate in the way that Skunk Anansie obviously intend. While the decision to strip things back down and rebuild the tempo over the verse works too.
Conversely, I Hope You Get To Meet Your Hero takes the foot off the pedal completely by stripping away the guitars, employing some strings and offering up a ballad that’s genuinely poignant. When Skin sings “I hope you get to meet your hero, I hope she never lets you down, I hope she never tears your heart out and runs away without a sound” you can almost hear the sound of a heart breaking.
Alas, such moments are short-lived as the album seems more content to motor along in fifth gear for much of the rest of the time.
Satisfied, in particular, is a pile-driver designed to set the mosh-pit alight, Drowning offers a lightweight attempt to combine the power with pop-leaning melody but fails to convince, and Sticky Fingers In Your Honey is two and a half minutes of glam-rock that sounds like a mix of Kiss and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The anger inherent throughout is also richly apparent here, as Skin sings “all they want is your money”, as if sticking two fingers up to corporate greed.
The album does end on another of the better notes, however, by once again slowing down the tempo for a mid-paced ballad called Diving Down, where Skin’s distinct vocals really do resonate.
But put together, it’s a decidedly mixed bag that’s more likely to wear you out than inspire.
Download picks: Spit You Out, I Hope You Get To Meet Your Hero, Diving Down, This Is Not A Game