Skunk Anansie: Anarchytechture | Virgin Media
Skunk Anansie: Anarchytechture

Skunk Anansie: Anarchytechtureby Ian Gittins | Rating: ★★★

15/01/2016Music

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If you had assumed that Primal Scream's imminent Chaosmosis had already scooped the prize for 2016's clunkiest album title, think again: Skunk Anansie may just have trumped them.

It figures. Ever since their 1990s inception, Skunk Anansie's image and song concepts have often written cheques that their music has struggled to cash. They are regularly too strident and too shrill, demanding our attention rather than deserving it: the idea of the band so much better than the reality.

The idea is certainly a great one: a hard-driving, political and cerebral rock band fronted by a statuesque, model-looks female black skinhead. Yet take Skin and her banshee howl away from Anarchytecture, Skunk Anansie's third album since their 2009 reunion, and what you have is a solid but largely unremarkable slab of pop-metal.

They promise wonders, as they always have. Opening track Love Someone Else's electro-leanings and soaring chorus play on Skin's lesbianism ("Stacy's got a brand new girl") then deal in Velvet Underground-style sexual transgression. In The Back Room mines similar lyrical fixations and is agreeably lewd and sleazy.

Big on elbow grease but low on incendiary menace

Yet, elsewhere, there are too many cack-handed attempts to sound portentous that crash-land somewhere around ponderous. Beauty Is Your Curse's full-throated lambasting of somebody who coasts through life relying on his/her looks is tiresomely self-righteous, a regular Skunk Anansie fault line, while Death To The Lovers is a shoulder-heaving ballad with zero to snag your attention outside of Skin's blowtorch of a vocal.

In their early days, they always vocally distanced themselves from Britpop, proclaiming a far greater affinity with grunge, but lumpen workouts such as Bullets and We Are The Flames are big on elbow grease but low on incendiary menace (Without You would be a half-decent U2 filler album track, but they probably won't thank me for saying so).

Anarchytecture is no disaster and Skunk Anansie remain a half-decent indie-metal band, but they are the definitive example of a group whose Greatest Hits album you wouldn't mind owning. You can do without this one.