If you were under the impression that Skin were pinned in a corner and about to chuck in the towel, think again. It’s amazing that a band this popular can be without a major deal, but these leaner times seem only to have sharpened their hunger. This, Skin’s third album, makes their major label debut sound utterly ridiculous in comparison. Both Neville MacDonald’s mountainous vocals and Myke Gray’s pyrotechnic guitar displays are loaded with distortion, ensuring ‘Experience Electric’ is their most creative work to date.
Far from plodding ponderously along the road to nowhere, Skin have really reached out this time around, finding new pastures in which to play without losing touch with their roots. With drummer Dick Fliszar and bassist Andy Robbins supplying the firm rhythms behind him, Gray sets to work his strongest material yet. His days with Jagged Edge seem like 20 years ago. And despite the merest hint of Jimi Hendrix, ‘Experience Electric’ sounds far more contemporary and fleet of foot than any previous effort.
The album opens with the title track, a surprising rush of adrenaline devoid of the slightly predictable hooks Skin were perhaps once guilty of. MacDonald sings with his customary lung power, but envelopes it in poise and purpose. ‘Blow My Mind’ – embarrassingly miss titled ‘Blow My Wind’ on the Japanese release – is a boisterous crowd pleaser, while ‘Shine Like Diamonds’ is already a live favourite. Skin can still pack gigs with genuine fans, a fact that the media have mostly chosen to ignore.
Check out the ever-changing ‘Soul’ or the rip-roaring ‘The Only One’ as examples of Skin ’97 at their best. The former is certainly ambitious, twisting and turning in spirals of melody, but as unpredictable as it gets. The latter boasts a rocket of a chorus that manages to be both memorable and unexpected. A few tracks lack such distinction, but the band may have done enough to please their loyal fanbase and, with luck, interest a wider field.
Skin haven’t changed. They’ve just had a facelift.
Rating – KKKK
– Steve Beebee