There’s a general consensus amongst the majority of mainstream music fans that there aren’t enough bands focussing on real life issues, the state of the country and other plights that affect society. Other than this not being true, there is, in fact, some fantastic music being made by artists who feel just as strongly about these issues as you do – perhaps you’re not looking in the right places? Whereas punk has always been the haven for fans of politically-active music, there’s a new group in town looking to turn the tide in their favour.
London-based reggae quartet, The Skints, have long been dousing venues across the UK in their own blend of dubby ska-punk. Hailing from the East end, The Skints have often been grouped in with bands such as The King Blues due to their ska influence and societal lyrics. With one studio album under their belts – 2009’s “Live. Breathe. Build. Believe.” – this year’s offering could see the four-piece propelled into the mainstream.
Produced by Prince Fatty (Gregory Isaacs, Graham Coxon, Lily Allen), “Part & Parcel” was funded entirely by fans through the Pledgemusic scheme. The money needed to record the LP was raised in just 11 days, so the thirst for new material is definitely alive in the hearts of music fans all over the world.
The fan-funded record opens on the infectious call to arms, ‘Rise Up’. The upbeat drums and trumpet provide the danceable vibes for Josh Waters Rudge to rap to and for the fantastic voice of Marcia Richards to simply soar over. Richards is what elevates The Skints over their punk-oriented contemporaries, as her delightfully light tones brighten up songs that aren’t exactly positive. ‘Can’t Take No More’ is your general anti-government anthem that intertwines with a love song about missing that special someone. ‘Live East Die Young’ is perhaps the highlight of the LP which is another London lament about sex, drugs and… prison. Dropping in locations including Leyton and Ilford, The Skints are proud of their heritage and regularly throw in lines about various Londonisms.
As “Part & Parcel” continues the sound transforms from activism into a happier, summery vibe with the beautifully chilled ‘Ring Ring’ and the reggae/punk fusion ‘Sunny Sunny’ that comes with a wealth of The Clash undertones. But as the album spins on, the aural plateau slowly drops off toward the end. Despite the traditional keyboards, melodica, bass and trumpets ploughing the reggae forward, the songs have lost that special element that drew you in to begin with. It’s just as punky and reggae as before, but the ideas appear to have run out for the London dubstars.
Don’t be put off by the few less-than-exciting tracks at the rear end of the record, though. The first half of the 11 song opus is an example of just how diverse the punk scene still is and that reggae is alive and well in the hearts of bands and fans alike across the UK. If you’re after something a little different that comes with a message, The Skints have the record for you.