Review Summary: The saints are here to stay.
The Skids are either one of two things: they might be legends of underground punk music, whose sound transcended the usual perception of underground punk, or they might be a mainstream band that took one too many influences from underground to succeed, and also tried to make it a slight notch too accessible and catchy to hit some cult status. Either way, they winded up with one or two songs that people remember, but don't remember who are they by, and they remain in relative oblivion to this day. So is this a respectful return or a desperate flickering of fading light"
Alright, let's not kid ourselves; you've already seen the rating. Call it ‘bad’, call it ‘mediocre’ or call it ‘meh’, the point is that it is underwhelming. But what could one really expect from a suddenly returned band that hasn’t put out an album in a couple of decades, where it’s not like it has been anything particularly grandiose (though the likes of The Dream Syndicate prove that it can be done)" Either way, here it is.
If you’ve followed the Skids’ career at all, you will know that it has never been a pinnacle of musical finesse or songwriting talent, and over the years they’ve hit a few lows. So in that context, Burning Cities
is quite a rise from ashes. So if you found the opening chords of their grandest hit “The Saints are Coming” to be somewhat dad-rock-like and cheesy, then you’ll find this album excruciating.
For fairness’ sake, it is quite pleasantly produced, which brings the enjoyment up a little, compared to some of their previous cheesy outputs. The music here pops much clearer and with a bigger punch to it. I now wonder how their other albums would sound, if given this kind of remaster. Several cuts are actually somewhat catchy, if you turn your head off and view it as just a cheesy mindless fun album. But the problem is that the Skids have always viewed themselves dead serious. They have been deep into political and individual issues in their lyrics and rarely particularly well, to which this album is barely an exception.
”You have everything,
You have nothing.
You have a life,
but you don’t have a life.”
And while the lyrical silliness and confused political stances the band tries to push through are certainly obnoxious, none of it is the worst part. So apart from the lyrics and stale and unimaginative songwriting (looking at you “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rip-off on “A World on Fire”), it’s the album’s pompous attitude and dizzying flow that drags it so much lower. I could have dealt with cheesiness and goofiness, had it resulted into a consistent, cohesive, fun record, but it is not. As unfortunate as it is, the Skids have returned to push through a confused, not fully formed protest message, screaming into the void.