Some band’s progression can be viewed through the prism of their touring schedule. The sounds and strengths of Skinny Lister have become grittier, dirtier and feistier due to their constant live presence in any club that will take them, the more spirited the crowd, the better it has been reflected in the performance of the band. Now this live spirit is triumphantly transferred to vinyl with a storming concept record about their greatest beau, the road and its pitfalls and high points. I’m a sucker for bands expanding their sounds and also records telling a story, so ‘The Story Is…’ ticks all the boxes for me and it has rarely left my speakers these past few weeks and continues to reveal more secrets as I hit the PLAY button again and again. Spoiler – It’s a great album.
Opening track ‘Second Amendment’ starts things off hot, with singer Dan Heptinstall snarling “I’ve got a burning desire, it’s taken hold of my soul” over a classic mod driven piece reminiscent of The Jam at their best or for younger viewers, The Ordinary Boys.
‘My Life, My Architecture’ sees Lorna Thomas in the driving seat, glorious female vocals so spirited that this early into the record you’ll be pounding your fist into the air and singing along. These are real tales not some fictional magic land of stadiums and champagne, how many bands sing about putting unleaded into their diesel vehicle? You can visualise them sat in a lay-by on a rainy afternoon in Hull. The album explodes with pictures along with the more experienced sonics. For one of the most sinister, check out ‘Artist Arsonist’ an anthem about a dangerous man in the flat below yours and how there’s “Nothing like the smell of burning melting plastic”, yes the tales are interesting and varied and this one in particular seems to resurrect the spirit of Joe Strummer and really in this genre, there are few compliments better than that, right?
Something else I notice listening to this excellent record is that nothing outstays its welcome. Many albums these days, see bands extending songs and sometimes meandering when they should be exploding. In the world of Skinny Lister, it is 1977 and the single is king, there are an impressive number of blink-and-its-gone pop classics here that would fit easily on the three minute pop single. Again, the spirit of The Clash is at work and again, it is a very welcome influence.
‘My Distraction’ has a superbly spiky guitar line that sounds like it could cut glass and more cool grainy female vocals. Stunning.
As the album continues, you hear the band understanding that the rock and roll life is threatening to take over and they need to step back with ‘Stop And Breathe’ being a command to the band itself “And don’t you dare let go, come up for air.” The band is at its most beautiful on ‘Sometimes So It Goes’, an open ballad reminiscent of Kirsty McColl, again if you are going to have influences, learn from the best.
The climax of the record is also a tease ‘Any Resemblance To Actual Persons Living Or Dead Is Purely Coincidental’, a knowing nod that suddenly makes you wonder whether all of this truth that you have been loving is merely fiction created in the studio, no real names, no real shame.
This final kiss off makes you wonder what other tales they have to tell and you’ll be instantly waiting for whatever they do next as Skinny Lister have created a spirited collection of brilliant songs that will have fans on the road screaming for more in 2019. Bigger venues, bigger tales, get on board.
The Story Is… is out March 1st 2019 on Xtra Mile Recordings and can be Pre-Ordered HERE
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