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.
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