Album Review: Skint and Demoralised – This Sporting Life

By on Thursday, 21st July 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s taken over a year but Skint and Demoralised has finally released their debut album. Er, a debut album, and then their second album. Which is actually more their debut, since it’s their first true long-playing release and this is what got them signed to Heist or Hit. But a full album’s worth of material was already ready, so now there are two albums running around. Confused? Let me set the stage…

In the latter part of 2008, Steve Lamacq named ‘The Thrill of Thirty Seconds’ by Skint and Demoralised (then singer and lyricist Matt Abbott and the producer MiNI dOG) one of the best songs of the year. You would think with that kind of endorsement that Mercury, the label that had initially signed the act, would have held on tight to them. Uhhh, no. There was even a point last year when Abbott completely changed tack with the dancey ‘I Love This City’ (video here), an ode to his beloved hometown of Wakefield. But album release-wise, they reached an impasse when Mercury unceremoniously dropped them. (This is starting to sound like the Little Comets saga, doesn’t it?)

‘This Sporting Life’, presumably named after the famous 1963 film starring Richard Harris (Abbott is an unabashed lover of “kitchen sink” dramas, just like that one Steven Patrick Morrissey…) caught the eye of Heist or Hit Records, who quickly snapped them up. Abbott and several close mates now make up the S&D live line-up, which should be great to see in the new future as they’ve got not one but two (‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’, the aforementioned debut album that really isn’t a debut album, thanks to Mercury).

One thing I would like to note: there’s been some complaint as of late that some British artists are ditching their regional accents for a more Americanised sound. Abbott sings with a classic Wakefield accent, which I think makes it feel more authentic and less manufactured. There’s certainly a polish to all of these songs, especially those bringing you into the world of Franco and Maria, Abbott’s fictional lovers (‘Maria, Full of Grace’, ’43 Degrees’), but there are some like ‘Hogmanay Heroes’ and the single ‘The Lonely Hearts of England’ (tipped by Lammo again…no surprise there!) that are more songs you’d sing with your mates at the pub.

Of all the songs on ‘This Sporting Life’, I favour ‘All the Rest is Propaganda’ the best; it’s got the word “precinct”, which reminded me of one of my favourite songs of all time, Stephen Duffy’s ‘A Man Without a Star’ and the first time I fell in love. At the time, I had to look up what “precinct” meant, because it meant something to do with the police to me (in America). But beyond that, it’s a sweet love song, distilling just how great it feels to be in love, as if life (including that little thing that we all need, love) has become ridiculously simple. Sometimes I wish it was exactly that way.

To knock you back into the real world, ‘Maybe You Are After All?’ introduces yet another theme we are all familiar with: unrequited love. It is catchy, as is ‘Voluntary Confinement’. The only parts of this album that I don’t get are the shouty, angry and jarring ‘Lowlife’ and the slower ‘Did It All Go to Plan?’. Regarding the latter, Abbott is not really a crooner. He’s too young to be one. (He’s only 22.) But I’m confident he’ll ease into that role, provided the record-buying public give the rest of this album – and ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ for that matter – a real listen.

8/10

Both ‘This Sporting Life’ and ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ are available now in digital format from Heist or Hit. The physical albums will be released in the UK on the 2nd of August.

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[…] Check out what exciting acts they've booked that will for sure end Manchester WHP with a bang… Skint and Demoralised's "debut" Why is "debut" in quotes? Because the story of this band's album r… Mercury Prize 2011: The Nominations So who's up for the prestigious industry award this year? Find […]

[…] opinion is that the guitar tracks should go, even though such was the style of their last album ‘This Sporting Life’. Sure, the direction offers light relief but this band is not the Arctic Monkeys, it’s the beats […]

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