It’s the album we’ve all been waiting for since the release of ‘Big Tings’ in 2018;Skindred have pulled out all the stops and is releasing their 8th studio album ‘Smile’,Friday 4th August on Earache Records.
Straight outta Newport, the Welsh Quartet have been celebrating their 25 years together, and the release of ‘Smile’ is great timing for the band, who’ve been working on it since 2019 in between touring with completion post-pandemic. Produced by Julian Emery and engineered by Pete Hutchings, the album is full of a diverse range of unique skills from all involved in its creation.
‘Our Religion’ kicks off first on this gargantuan 12-track album, and sets the scene perfectly. Just 12 seconds in and Mikey Demus’s ‘Drop D’ tuned guitar chucks out those slow and sludgy slides, twinned with Daniel Pugsley’s bass line to lay down the foundations of this belter. Throw in some systematic pauses, thrashing drumbeats courtesy of Arya Goggin and of course, Benji Webbe’s ragga-style gnarly vocals, put the cherry on top of this tasty track.
‘Smile’ heads through into ‘Gimme That Boom’; a track that’s already been released which omits a powerful message from the frontman and taken from a situation he found himself in with a Skindred fan; an uncomfortable one that roots stem from social media, and the pressure that it puts on musicians to be constantly in the limelight, being unable to live a normal life without being hounded for a selfie. On the plus side, it’s a damn good track with a thumping in-yer-face sound, the band’s prevalent guitar riffs, and Webbe’s gravelly warning. A track you could quite imagine being pumped outta those woofers on the album cover.
The album takes a bit of a diversion with ‘Life That’s Free’; or so you’re led to believe with its uplifting dance beat, the twinkling of keys and Webbe’s soulful vocals. But it wouldn’t be a Skindred track without having some kind of heavy stamp on it; usually from Demus. And it works.
‘L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)’ however, is a contrast to what the band usually fills our ears with. It’s a chance to showcase Webbe’s powerful vocal cords in this lighthearted track, that’s packed with feel-good lyrics and cheer, positivity, and that classic reggae bass. But the reggae doesn’t stop there.
‘This Appointed Love’ continues the vibe whilst Webbe’s vocals take more of a placid turn; that is until Demus smashes his way back into the track to join the bass line with yet more of his devilish riffs, and Goggin shifts those sticks from the rims to the skins on the drums, forging a much darker sound. Then at the flick of a switch, the tone reverts back to where it started. Two music genres you’d never think of putting together. But in this case, opposites do attract and Skindred has mastered it to a tee.
Whilst ‘Black Stars’ takes the band back to their roots, ‘State of The Union’ sees Demus swap those dastardly power chords for funkier licks on his guitar.Although it’s bit more of a dance track, you just can’t help wondering when those infamous riffs are gonna sneak back in.
But one of the most colourful tracks on the album has to be ‘Addicted’. Stacked with a mix of hip-hop, dance, ragga and rock, it portrays the darker side of addiction with this incredibly catchy tune that’ll have those feet moving no matter what.
The penultimate track on ‘Smile’ is ‘Mama’. A track dedicated to all the hard-working mums out there;the bass line is sampled from ‘Desmond Dekker & The Aces’ 1960s hit ‘Israelites’ with Webbe throwing his vocals back into that ‘ragga’ style to compile another laid-back reggae tune. Not a power chord in site. Nice one Benji.
The final track of the album is ‘Unstoppable’, and one that you could say is a statement straight from the horse’s mouth.‘Coming atcha like a freight train’, Webbe has battled Sepsis and has even been through the trauma of having his throat slashed; yet he’s showing no signs of stopping. This man is relentless in what he does, and the power of the musicians he has behind him to create this almighty eighth album goes to show that together, they are ‘Unstoppable’.
SMILE – Tracklisting
Gimme That Boom
Life That’s Free
If I Could
L.O.V.E (Smile Please)
This Appointed Love
State Of The Union
MamaUnstoppableUK HEADLINE TOUR
6th October: Northampton, Roadmender (SOLD OUT)
7th October: Leeds, O2 Academy
13th October: Cambridge, Junction
14th October: Norwich, Epic (SOLD OUT)
19th October: Nottingham, Rock City (SOLD OUT)
20th October : Newcastle , NX
21st October : Glasgow , The Garage (SOLD OUT)
27th October: Brighton, Chalk (SOLD OUT)
28th October : Bristol , O2 Academy
3rd November: Sheffield, Leadmill (SOLD OUT)
4th November: Lincoln, The Engine Shed (SOLD OUT)
10th November: Cardiff, Great Hall (SOLD OUT)
11th November: Southampton, O2 Guildhall
17th November: Belfast, Limelight 1 (UPGRADED)
18th November: Dublin, Academy