Skunk Anansie are back with their sixth studio album, ‘Anarchytecture’: a collection of hard-hitting alternative rock anthems, brimming with punchy riffs and the sort of fire that can only burn from the heart and soul of vocal powerhouse, Skin.
Regarded as one of the best live bands in the world, Skunk Anansie have toured SA a vast number of times, with their most recent tour to SA in October 2013 for Rocking The Daisies (Cape Town) and In The City (Johannesburg) as one of the international headliners alongside The Hives, alt-J and Boys Noize.
‘Anarchytecture’ is the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Black Traffic’, and features the group’s regular line-up of Skin, guitarist Ace, bassist Cass & drummer Mark Richardson.
Watch the music video for the first single “Love Someone Else”:
The title, like so many of Skin’s lyrics, mines those fractious “grey areas” of human endeavor. While ‘Black Traffic’ delved into the seedy underbelly of technology, the dark web and hidden currencies, ‘Anarchytecture’ concerns itself with more intangible structures — the ones we build for ourselves and the ones that are built for us, by unseen hands. The title means different things to each band member, but for Skin, ‘Anarchytecture’ names that fraught intersection between structure and chaos, boundaries and freedom.
It’s not a break-up album, says Skin (“I’ve vowed I’ll never write one of those again”) but the emotional detritus from a slew of “explosions” in her personal life this year have bled into the lyrics — most of which were bare-bone constructs fleshed out under pressure, last minute-style in the studio. What emerged were propulsive, nocturnal rhythms, songs rich with lust, damage, desire, manipulation, power, loss and complex characters (drawn from real life) driven by dark, intense and volatile desires.
In Death To The Lovers, Skin captures the euphoria that suicides are purported to experience just before they depart (“Darkness comes, I feel magnificent”) while the gargantuan guitars and military drums in We Are The Flames offer up a refusal, aimed squarely at the propaganda machines and state-controlled architecture of modern-day life: politics, spin, social media, surveillance.
They’re responsible for some of the ‘90s most definitive anthems, but Skunk Anansie’s vision is trained on the now, says Ace. “The intention was to make something new again, to draw on the things around us in the present.”
As such, the bedrock for their early sound have shifted, giving way to a streamlined, melody-driven breed of rock, stewarded with speed and precision by producer Tom Dalgety [Royal Blood, Band of Skulls] and augmented with deft electronic currents — a direction they began in earnest on Black Traffic.
“We’re definitely still a rock band,” laughs Skin. “We’ve not gone dubstep or anything. But it’s certainly the grooviest album we’ve ever done.” Those grooves come through loud and clear on the pumping, disco rhythm of In The Back Room, and the deep, throbbing bassline anchoring Victim’s serpentine guitars. What hasn’tchanged in Skunk Anansie’s armory is Skin’s inimitable falsetto, which soars with the same gritty, supernatural potency that made stormers such as Charity and Weakso unforgettable.
‘Anarchytecture’ may be intense, hewn more from the dark than the light, but there’s a healthy energy on this record, says Cass — the kind that only bands with true mileage can create. “It’s unusual to be in a band for 20 odd years, and not only still play together but also feel like family. There’s a lot of love here.”
‘Anarchytecture’ is out now in South Africa and available on CD and Download.
Fans can get the album here on iTunes.