Album Review: Skint and Demoralised – The Bit Between the Teeth

By on Wednesday, 1st May 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Jason Graham

Skint and Demoralised The Bit Between the Teeth coverSuddenly Skint & Demoralised is three records old. How did that happen? Dare I suggest it comes from not yet having had that break out moment that lifts a band and shoves their wares in your face? And now their moment on a major is gone, it is time to reassemble.

Hailing from Wakefield in Yorkshire (big rugby town), Skint & Demoralised remains a duo that wears its heart and influences heavily on its sleeve. Within seconds Leeds United player Billy Bremner is referenced in a manner that will typically tickle and tantalise some listeners, while confusing and possibly losing others before their work has even started. As the album advances, it’s all quite kitchen sink and very blokey in execution. Then 6 minutes into the record somebody has broken the narrator’s nose.

It is such local reference that gives the act a solid footing being very much in the now. This is will always be celebrated by certain circles of the audience, these are the touchstones that bring an act close to their public. There is little question of their geography, the only issue is their perception of the moment. This is the sound of signing on and heading straight down to Wetherspoons afterwards.

The words arrive from Matt Abbott. It is somewhat established that he is writer first and vocalist second and that is why the heftier, spoken word workouts here are the tracks that stand out on this release (and the current music climate in general). At a time when Plan B is expressing appreciation for the trail blazed by John Cooper Clarke, Abbott makes for a pretty decent midpoint between the two. Additionally, when the poetry sinks to its bleakest points I find myself thinking of Tony Harrison and grimace he expounds.

It is ‘Breakfast At Sylvia’s’ (video below) that immediately grabs the attention, surfing a cool glide between spoken word and sung celebration. For me the scene setting storytelling echoes the great arrival of Arab Strap on ‘The First Big Weekend’ along with the early peak of The Streets that came with ‘Weak Become Heroes’. It is all about making the gesture to shine a light on some grotty existence and double up the excitement of mundane motions.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh-wjY4he70[/youtube]

‘The Bit Between the Teeth’ is a title that suggests an animal ferocity and determination built on horsepower but too often certain tracks resemble a stagger. The fluctuation between hard narrative and chirpy indie somewhat scuppers momentum, even when the switch in style is so clearly book ended. Tracks such as ‘Plessey Road’ and ‘Lucifer’s Cardigan’ do musically remind of The Smiths (especially the latter sounding like ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’) but its not necessarily in a strong fashion while other efforts at times curiously recall Inspiral Carpets, The Pogues and even Carter USM. Was that really the intention?

My personal 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 and strings than enable these words to flourish and breathe, such as on the almost trip hop ’The Long Night That Lies Ahead’. It’s the future.

To name yourselves Skint & Demoralised is ultimately quite the grand gesture. It is the opposite of the ‘aspiration nation’ mindset the powers that be are currently attempting to coerce a generation into subscribing and thus in response we have what is something of a defiant accessible sneer attached to our stereo. But I’m just not convinced that they are fully match fit to pull it off.

Time is already running out.

Rough.

6/10

‘The Bit Between the Teeth’, the new album from Skint and Demoralised, is out now on Heist or Hit.

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One Response

1:56 pm
1st May 2013

RT @tgtf: Guest writer Jason Graham reviews @MattAbbottSkint: Album Review: Skint and Demoralised The Bit Between the Teeth: http://t.co/C0…

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