Review Summary: “I’ll return to you one day, but, for now, I just can’t stay.”
Matt Skiba has been very busy since he formed with Glenn Porter and Rob Doran to create Alkaline Trio in 1997. He has made countless albums with this group alongside a split with Kevin Seconds, an album with bands the Heavens and the Hell, scattered solo songs here and there, and, most recently, one with blink-182. With all of these groups out there in the music world, one might miss out on some of Skiba’s best work with how scattered it is throughout his catalog; one might miss out on Matt Skiba and the Sekrets.
Kuts is a mixed bag, but not in the sense that there is a wide and inconsistent range of quality, but that Skiba explores so many different ideas. From pop-punk-fused tracks “Lonely and Kold” and “She Said” to laid-back grooves “Krazy” and “Hemophiliak,” and from emotional highlights “Way Bakk When” and “Never Believe” to the experimental “Krashing” and “I Just Killed To Say I Love You,” this album is incredibly diverse. This is what makes and breaks Kuts.
The highlights are all in the form of individual moments. The winding bass in “Never Believe” is lovely behind the piano, the riffs punching over the other instruments in “Lonely and Kold” are strong and catchy, and the wonder of a chorus in “She-Wolf” is one of the best on the entire record. There’s no song without its flaws, but every single song has something unique to bring to the table.
Despite the variety, some things are consistent, specifically the production. I will not sugarcoat this, the record sounds bad. While not unlistenable, specific parts sound like they were recorded inside of a cardboard box. Another consistency is the lyrics, which remain mostly above-average throughout Kuts, and Skiba’s vocals sound pretty good.
After what I have laid out (and the rating), it must be pretty obvious that Kuts is not the peak of Skiba’s career. It has several failures across its short tracklist and there is not a single song I am completely in love with, but that is not what I enjoy about Kuts. Kuts is Skiba’s best work because of how it perfectly showcases his personality; it’s sometimes dark, sometimes twisted, sometimes lighthearted, sometimes sad, and sometimes melancholy, and while overall, to the average listener, this record might come off as yet another average rock album, for people searching for Matt Skiba, it’s perfect.
Song after song plays and the thought that never leaves my mind is how this is essentially the Everclear of Matt Skiba - 97% Skiba, 3% other. It may not be flawless, hell, it isn’t even close, but it doesn’t need to be. Matt Skiba has crafted an album that only he could, and at the end, when the last notes of “Vienna” fade away, the only thing left is to do is to spin it again.