Review Summary: Not quite big enough.
Rapid-fire reggae lyrical indulgencies shouted out by a charismatic frontman mixed with fat dubstep beats slammed against irresistible grooves and anthemic choruses. Nothing about Skindred’s ‘Reggae Rock’ sound should work. And yet, the truth is that if you’re not playing Skindred at a party then you’re not doing it right... The band projects energy and enthusiasm so easily that their predictably brilliant live performances have become renowned for Benji’s Webbe’s zero-bull*** banter, unique crowd participation (google The Newport Helicopter) and overall feeling of positivity and wellbeing of those who attend.
Since the Welsh four-piece released their debut album 16 years ago, their popularity has exploded in becoming an international sensation strengthened by their expectantly brilliant live performances, unphased attitude and pioneering the ‘Ragga Rock’ sound. Clearly, this approach has worked out well for them, however, too much dependency on one particular sound leads to stagnancy. No one forgets a Skindred show yet following 2014’s passable “Kill the Power”
only a year later, their previous album “Volume”
passed under most people’s radars. Is Skindred becoming one of those bands whose success relies on their name and reputation rather than the music itself" It’ll take something big to prove otherwise.
Undeniably, “Big Tings”
contains some humungous moments that would make anyone bust out a shape they never learned in school on the dancefloor, most of which erupt during infectious choruses scattered across the album. Skindred’s increasing pop influences prove their worth in songs such as “That’s My Jam” which delivers jiving grooves alongside irresistible cheerleading whooping that briefly resurfaces on “Last Chance” after a simple, joyfully jumpy chorus. On the heavier side of the scale is “Machine” where the band sticks to their roots with call-and-response lyrics leading to playful distorted riffs. In these tracks, Skindred reminds their audience that their pedal is always glued to the floor and solidify their reputation as one of the most energetic heavy bands out there.
On the other hand, “Big Tings”
is incredibly unexceptional compared to any of its predecessors. Looking at Skindred at face value, there are countless possibilities and opportunities to explore when you throw reggae, rock and metal into a blender yet Skindred chose to include nothing other than more of the same thing on “Big Tings”
. “Broken Glass”, the title track and “Alive” are certainly energetic songs but they sound noticeably diluted due to the increased pop atmosphere where Benji’s singing is not supported by jazzy guitars or gambolling drums, only by simplistic electronics that bob in time with his wording. Closing the album is “Saying it Now”, a song that deals with a close friend of Benji’s passing away before he could say goodbye. It’s touching, poignant and delivered nakedly where acoustic guitars, violins and Benji’s clean vocals are presented. Here, Skindred manages to tread new ground by delivering a sincere message while retaining their beliefs of bringing people closer together.
Like numerous bands in the heavy music scene, Skindred has developed such a reliable formula with their sound that it seems ridiculous to contemplate ever changing it. While “Big Tings”
is essentially nothing more than another Skindred album, it is fun, energetic and does everything it’s intended to do. Nevertheless, it would be a tragedy to witness a beloved band that showed such promise in the past slip into mediocrity. Skindred already has big tings; what they need now is new