Tim Whale | Indie Bands Blog | 26/02/2013
As promised when I wrote about Skimmed in November 2012 here is he review of the thirteen track LPSummer Lovers – which was released on the 23rd February 2013.
Skimmed – Summer Lovers
Opening with the familiar and signature sound is Ronnie an invitation in to the darkened sultry tease that isSkimmed. An evocative underlay and vocal has the listener reaching for a glass of wine and some candles to relax in comfort for what is set to be a flirtatious ride of emotional context.
Retaining the mood with Fire In The Disco which has a retro-feel with a meltingly engaging bass plays as the focal point around which the smoke filled four minutes.
Flowing on with the title track which is an achingly mournful register which reflects of the shallow nature of holiday romance. The production values of the release are exemplified between the live recording below and the release version which floats at a far more atmospheric lower register.
Tiger Tiger lifts the tempo with a skipping beat that rattles around the head, with a highly effective melody that keeps the song in tune with the sentiments of Summer Lovers.
Sunday Drive follows with the synth leading the way once again and as one of the shorter tracks at just over three minutes the ears are drawn to references of Blondie influences.
The Stripper is as sleazy as the title suggests a stunning composition that for me is the value added to the whole LP. Flayed open guitars are accompanied by sliding electronics with a panic riven vocal anxiety that encapsulates the whole discordance of the themes of the release.
Marking the half-way point the ears are intoxicated by Fingernails – instruments are detuned to create that sense of nails tearing inside the mind exposing vulnerable nerve endings. A subtle and intoxicating piece of work.
Ghost In The Mirror for all its title may lead you to believe has a whistling lilt to it that raises tapping feet to accompany the weaving strings. A clever track as whilst up-tempo it has an ethereal atmospheric running throughout the 3:50.
God Will Take A Note is another rocking number with dampened guitars that plays nicely against the preceding track as the mind suddenly shifts to the stark from the atmospheric.
Freak Show is another track that barely breaks the three minute mark yet it contains enough textures and paints to have held on for another three minutes. A track I particularly enjoy for its energy and as a prime example of how not to become self indulgent as although Skimmed have packed up their bags, gone home and had a shower the brain is just wanting this to carry on for longer.
Summer Lovers is an LP that gets the stronger the longer it progresses and you just can’t wait to play it all again – Devil’s Alibi contains a stomping guitar note that is more normally associated with a rock-a-billy double bass, whilst Skimmed wrap it in textures of ectoplasm.
Isobel is a haunting sombre switch back to the opening tracks which are focussed on lyrical concepts and even if you didn’t know this was the penultimate track of the release you would get the sense that this is winding up to the finale….
Which we find with Dream Girl a sense of hope and fortune to follow is the concluding recollection – a clever place to end as this already sets an arrow towards Skimmed having much more to deliver to audiences across the world.
With that – I am hitting play once again….
Ramona Depares | The Sunday Times & Life with a Dash of Zing (blog) | 17/02/2013
It is no secret that Skimmed are one of my favourite Maltese outfits. When they first appeared on the scene, their sound was extremely promising, if raw. Six years down the line, with every live performance, the band – in particular vocalist Alexandra Aquilina’s voice and presence – has grown from strength to strength, presenting an altogether tighter, more forceful product.
The launch of their first full-length album,Summer Lovers, is 2013’s first big launch on the local indie scene and, if the rest of year continues along these lines, it’s going to be a good year indeed. The CD kicks off withRonnie, the teaser single that was pre-released online some weeks ago, together with accompanying video. Ronnie presents a rather different feel to the Skimmed that we have been used to so far – with more mainstream appeal than the band’s usual tracks, this is a vibe that continues for the first five tracks.
Ronnie is an eminently likeable, hummable, upbeat love song of sorts that is totally in keeping with the title of this album. The intro is strong; Aquilina’s vocals take on a mellower sound than she is known for, say, in tracks like the old favourite Napoleon; the bass-line is consistently strong… these are all elements that make Ronnie a winner and that hopefully, will guarantee it plenty of radio air-time. The latter is not necessarily high on the band’s agenda, but fact remains that products like this deserve more exposure across a diverse audience.
The CD moves on to an altogether more mature note with Fire in the Disco, a dark, intense track that gives Aquilina ample opportunities to play around with her vocal range. From the lyrics themselves – “the flames they grew to reach up to the skies” is one of my favourite lines – to the brooding riffs to the vocals that rise from a husky quasi-whisper to a determined strength, falling in love with this one is easy.
The eponymous Summer Lovers follows, not quite as innocent as the title suggests with cutting lyrics that carry all the poignancy of a love that turns to disappointment. The trend continues withTiger Tiger. It’s almost as though with every track, Summer Lovers gets better and better; the vocals become more unrestrained, the arrangements tighter, the lyrics more cynical (or realistic?) and the music more punctuated.
Sunday Drive follows, with its constant “True love, I wonder what it is to you” refrain that deliciously contradicts the upbeat crescendo of the music. This one really makes you want to tap your feet, no matter how cheesy that sounds.
The next track, The Stripper, shows Aquilina in full mettle. This is the dance-floor filler, the track that’s guaranteed to get everyone moshing like there’s no tomorrow, the one that will bring any performance to a roaring climax. Fingernails gives us a break from the aggro, while Ghost in the Mirror delivers the kind of angry, aggressive sensuality that is now synonymous with the band. The same applies to Freak Show, with its frenetic beat and an urgent refrain.
While the whole album is an extremely strong product, Skimmed really reach their full potential from the eighth track onwards, with the possible exception of God Will Take a Note, which is easily my least favourite entry. Devil’s Alibi packs vocals and bass with a punch, but it is Isobelthat wins my heart. I’ve been waiting for this track to be recorded since I heard the band perform it live, so forceful was their rendition. Alternately haunting and rousing, this is one that gets under your skin.
Summer Lovers comes full circle with the last track, Dream Girl, a light-hearted, mellow (by Skimmed standards, that is) piece that brings the listener gently back to earth after the fire and brimstone of the previous tracks.
To conclude, definitely one to add to your collection for all seasons and not just for the summer.
Eric Montfort | di-ve.com | 22/02/2013
Eric Montfort reviews Skimmed’s debut album, which will be launched tomorrow.
Skimmed’s debut album, entitled Summer Lovers, is finally being released, some six years ever since they got together. It’s worth the wait, though, as this band, which has time and again made various impressive appearances, has moulded its individual members’ enthusiasm, creativity and sense of adventure into something organic, appealing and at times enticing. They have grown stronger and most of the songs featured on this album reflect this sense of maturity and creativity.
Summer Lovers revolves around two factors, namely vocalist Alexandra Aquilina’s strident vocals, and the band’s musical approach, which has opened up, though Skimmed essentially remain tied to their sense of urgency, and post-punk influences and ideals. It is incredible how 35 years since punk took off, it still influences so many talents, not least Maltese acts like Skimmed. However, there is something more articulate in present-day Skimmed. The Stripper is a case in point – barbed and tight, it is an observant yet angry song, in contrast to what one may expect from the title. Ronnie, which opens procedures is a good, song, ear-friendly but nonetheless raw.
The raucous sound of Skimmed is still there. It has only been rendered grand by a good production from veteran David Vella. Sunday Drive is probably the best example here. The song’s crescendo lines based on strident guitars, percussion and keyboards are a throwback of what producer John Leckie did with Magazine’s second album, Real Life, 35 years ago. Here is a melodic, and well-paced, upbeat but hard-hitting sound that talks about the doubts of true love. I am pretty sure that Howard Devoto would love this song. And Summer Lovers would have easily fitted in the burgeoning late 1970s, post-punk Manchester scene that spawned Magazine, Joy Division and The Buzzcocks among other bands.
The title tune, Summer Lovers, talks about disappointments in love and starts with a slow, almost funereal keyboard arrangement which gains momentum as the guitars mesh in, allowing enough space for Alexandra’s vocals which are at their most expressive on this release. The arrangements are almost orchestral and again are another case of sounding grandiose without pretense. Freak Show and Tiger Tiger are essentially Skimmed in their early days, but there is once more of David Vella’s fine production touches. It is significant that Skimmed’s debut has retained such an urgent, uncompromising sound coupled with a very good, balanced production. The sound is brooding, at times dark and intense as on Fire In the Disco, yet retaining catchy choruses as can indeed be heard on the song. Isobel, likewise moves along a melodramatic musical path. Composing and producing songs like these is not such an easy task, and in this day and age where catchy, memorable songs are quite rare, Skimmed offers a breath of fresh air, and by all means, Summer Lovers is quite an encouraging feat. Alongside Lone Lab Rat’s new single and No Bling Show’s new album, Skimmed’s Summer Lovers is a very good release to start off 2013.