The excellent Welsh band have released another good album with their new one Skin, which I pre-ordered from the band's website. The album cover perfectly conveys the music that escapes this dark little jewell. This album is further proof of the collective skills of the band and it is intriguing to see how they have developed away from their debut album Visionary Position. The new album is a more cohesive set than their opening album - which is how it should be I suppose. Though I do sometimes miss the epicness of that album's closing track The Dreaming - I wonder if the band will ever try something like that again?
Song for tomorrow kicks the cd off with the band in good form - Anne-Marie's vocals as strong as ever. It's a postitive start - though not quite as good as the previous album's opener - Freedom to breathe. Chameleon and Screens follow, both good efforts with the latter's energy a welcome contrast to other material on display here. The low point of the album for me, in sharp contrast to what other reviewers have said, is Chances. I find it a very lucklustre effort. I find the chours slightly irritating - though many others have described it as catchy. The song's not helped by the singer's declaration that "She's given more than a woman can give." Umm - not one that will be making its way onto my ipod.
Things quickly pick up again for the atmospheric tracks Tightrope Walking and, in particular, Velvet and stars which is stripped down (very effectively)to guitar and vocals. This is followed by my favourite song on the album, Freefalling. It's describing a parachute experience I believe. It boasts an easy, flowing rhythm and has a lightness of touch that contrasts with the mood of much of the album.
The title track Skin is another successful track, excellent vocals, but again not quite the equal of its counterpart Satellite - the brilliant title track from the previous album - which I believe is the best of their three albums to date. The album closer, Nocturnal has another winning vocal performance. The verse are simple, evocative - though not sure if the chorus quite does the song justice. The song climaxes with a winning blend of guitar, strings and vocals - ending the album on a high.
Good stuff as usual from the band. What stops this one from being a five star effort (for me) is that it lacks the dynamism that was so evident on their previous effort. Furthermore, Satellite had songs like Sunshine and I am the cat (not for everyone's taste!) that offered the listener a bit of humour and relief from the album's darker pieces. This one can occasionally be just a little too over-wrought at times for my tastes. But overall, Skin is still a very strong album which is further proof of what a talented band they are and comes highly recommended. But for someone wanting to try Panic Room out, I'd recommend Satellite first.