From the moment they burst onto the scene in 2016, doing things by the book simply hasn’t been an option. And it’s only fitting that this latest offering from The Skinner Brothers bangs the usual drum of hard-nosed guile and spirit, complimented by Apollo Creed-esque levels of swagger and attitude. The first juxtaposition here, however, is that the whole EP was recorded on just £100 worth of equipment in Zach Skinners Brentford flat. Perhaps then… the spirit is more reminiscent of the Rocky Balboa underdog story rather than that of the flamboyant ‘Master of Disaster’ Creed. As Skinner reflects himself: “No one taught me how to do this, it’s just taken me ten years to suss it out.”
Opener ‘Iconic’ sets the tone in infectious rouge soldier fashion: “I’m on a tube train, gonna lose my brain”. Make no mistake, this track instantly feels like a personal call to arms, an overwhelming urge to slap on your best Ray Ban’s, jump in the car and get your shit together. The combination of razor sharp riffs, drums fatter than a lump of Lurpack and a series of contagious vocal hooks leads one to suggest that a 21st century T.Rex may have sounded something like this. Throughout is a menacing and aggressive undertone that is held at bay, controlled and delivered with effortless wit and style.
Second track ‘More’ is a reflection of Skinners desire to place strong hooks and melodies at the parapet of his songwriting: “When people show me their lyrics, I just can’t focus on them. Show me the big hook and the bad boy drop. I just want to hear a good melody”. As evident as this philosophy is in the strength of the hooks and melody, one can not underestimate Skinner’s poignant and direct lyricism which explores the many facets of human spirit. Listening closely, you can hear a multitude of strong Hip Hop influences which add powerful new dimensions sonically, those of which lesser guitar bands would struggle to incorporate with such ease.
Glam stomper ‘Low’ has already received several plays on Steve Lamaq’s BBC Radio 6 Show and it’s easy to see why with songs so well-crafted and suited for the airwaves. The first 3 songs on the record undoubtably benefit from input of Grammy-nominated producer James Krausse – not for any outlandish creative reason; just a simple observation based on the rather chunky and fulfilling production, which Skinner acknowledges himself was a conscious decision to get the record sounding as ‘big and heavy’ as possible. The video directed by creative collaborator Connor Hill (who also designed the artwork) paints Skinner and the band in their best light – real-life faces in a real-life environment. Zero bullshit.
A beautifully melancholic acoustic version of 2020’s ‘Away Days’ is also included, featuring appearances from Rob Harvey (The Music) and Russ Pritchard (The Zutons/Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds). This poetic and humanistic take on one the great working-class institutions will stand forever timeless and cuts a fitting ending to an E.P that is confident and sure of its own standing and intentions.
The Skinner Brothers are at the top of their game and you can see them this summer headlining London’s legendary 100 Club on 13th August, followed by huge outdoor shows at Crystal Palace Bowl (21st/22nd August) and Castlefield Bowl (24th September) supporting The Streets.
Look out for our interview with Zach Skinner coming later this week.
Iconic EP – Released Friday 7th May on Blaggers Records. Pre- save the new EP here.
Photos: Connor Hill