Review Summary: "You gotta stamp your own brand and ideas on a scene"
“You gotta stamp your own brand and ideas on a scene.” So say The Skints on “Get me”, a track that opens with an unperturbed Cypress Hill vibe before mangling itself into something altogether more fuming. If there’s one thing that you can say for this East London quartet it’s that they certainly bring their own brand and style, and if that's not enough, they bring it well. 'Live, Breathe, Build, Believe' is a refreshing sound in a time of unoriginal music and bands doing as little as they need to get by. This is a mash-up of punk and reggae, and then on top of that it’s layered with a whole cavalcade of nuances and innovations. There’re keyboards, melodicas, pianos, brass, massive resonating bass lines (all canoodling with upstrokes), aggressive riffs and drums that touch both ends of the scale. It all comes across like a multicultural musical bazaar.
The best thing about 'The Skints' is the vocal work. The Band has three singers. The first is Jamie Kyriakides. Surprisingly, while being the bands drummer, he also has the most smooth voice of the group. He also has impressive drumming skills, varying from the simple Hi-Hat, snare, Kick Drum beats that lots of drummers stick to. During 'Contemplations of the modern rudeboy' he breaks down into a complex drum beat towering over the rest of the song as he chants along with his fellow singers. His soulful and varying vocal sounds are incredible and work extremely well in contrast to the next singer. Josh Waters Rudge is the sandpaper to Kyriakides’ feather-light approach. His vocal work is made up of angst and conflict. He is the angry, abrasive member who will shout about the woe of the government while gently playing staccato chords or powerful over-driven melodies. Delicately placed between the two we find Marcia Richards. Lily Allen comparisons aside, Roanna has a very pretty voice and is able to sing at high speed for long periods of time if she chooses to. However, Marcia is left under the vocals of the other two singers in this album, having only main parts in 'Murderer' and 'Roanna's song'. However, the multi-instrumentalist is frequently found on the rest of the album playing the majority of the instruments.
Another member should not be forgotten though. Jonathan Doyle has the most swagger of any bassist I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Playing smooth basslines throughout the songs that vary from the simple notes following the key of the song but also manage to resonate and become a main part of each song, Doyle manages to stand out as a key member of 'The Skints'.
On a whole, this album is a production gem. Every song is richly textured and feels more like an immersive journey of sounds rather than just a set of songs. The songs also contrast a lot as the album goes on. One minute you're listening to 'Get me', a song led by Josh Waters Rudge's angry vocals with a sinister feel, the next you are listening to 'Bright Girl', showing off the Ska side of 'The Skints' and led by the impressive and upbeat vocals of Jamie accompanied by the bouncy sounds of the rest of the group. There’s a whole lot going on and it’ll take a whole heap of spins to get a grasp on all of it, but at the same time though there’s enough of instantaneous impact for this song to leave its mark on you the first time around. The only problem with this impact is that, after 'Bright Girl', the album starts to teeter on the edge of tedium, and listeners may lose interest during 'Change the Channel' and 'Sociopath'. This is only on the first listen, however, as the songs become more immersive the more you listen to them. Despite this, they are followed by 'Roanna's song' which will regain the attention of listeners with its lyrics and mixture of slow mournful lyrics and fast rantings about war by Marcia.
If not for the fact that at some points this album loses it's edge, this album gains a solid 5 musically. It is 11 songs of anger, fun, sadness and fear. It will also appeal to a wide variety of audiences with all its likable songs, especially 'Bright Girl'. With its great lyrics, great singing, amazing production and originality, this album will make you want to listen to it over and over and over again.
Contemplations of the modern rudeboy