Review Summary: Go on, have a little Stroke
Consciously or otherwise, the Strokes did their best to try and destroy their legacy with last year’s Comedown Machine
. Whilst actually being A Good Album, it inevitably suffered from a lack of promotion, accompanying tour and soulless packaging which must have been a dig at somebody, somewhere.
While the Strokes’ career birthed any number of louche, swivel-hipped copycats, their long term influence has yet to have been really charted. As luck would have it, this brings us directly to Skaters and their debut LP Manhattan
Sure, if I was in a band from New York that peddled relentless guitar pop-rock with a sinister undertone, I would be tired of the Strokes comparisons. Yet I would expect them from most avenues.
By time opener “One Of Us” has finished and left us all in a daze, with lyrics touching on sleeping in clothes and he-said-she-said city nightclub gossip hounds, it’s rather easy to start tracing the musical family tree backwards.
What follows is a great little lesson in how to do the basics right. “Miss Teen Massachusetts” and “Deadbolt” go for the throat with a combination of speed, power and memorable choruses. Not long thereafter, it’s “Band Breaker” that steals the show early on. A reggae theme with an addictively laid-back vibe, the song appears to deal with the usual problem of band relationships breaking down. In reality, you’ll be singing it all week.
In a not-so-predictable twist, it’s the lead single that seems most out of place. “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)” moves away from the guttural bravado of what preceded it, replacing it with wishy-washy “Oh I’m such a shy and awkward type of boy” nonsense that is enough to get the blood boiling. We all appreciate the fact they’re after a little money and recognition, but pandering to the indie-disco crowd just breeds gunk like this.
Alas, it’s the only black mark on an otherwise perfectly fine debut effort. The album clatters out of focus in a pleasing fashion. “Nice Hat” is a short, sharp punch to the face while “This Much I Care” shows Skaters and their inherent cynicism for all it’s worth.