Featuring former Paddingtons guitarist Josh Hubbard and touting an aesthetic largely centred around pizza and being a halfpipe bro, New York-via-Hull quintet Skaters’ first stab at the pie on 2014 debut ‘Manhattan’ was perhaps an overly stylised one. Despite having a clutch of undeniable tunes, there was something about the baseball caps and Bill And Ted-isms that just felt a bit… try hard?
Returning three years later with ‘Rock and Roll Bye Bye’, the band have clearly relaxed their own parameters to largely positive results. ‘Northern Soul’ is a free lovin’ jam that sounds like a lost Primal Scream offering, while ‘Mental Case’ rolls on far subtler melodic lines than its sledgehammer title suggests and the amusingly named ‘Clip Art Link 1 Bubbles’ is an unexpected interlude seemingly taken straight from the ‘Drive’ soundtrack. ‘Restless Babe’ is easily the best thing on the album, taking hazy, lazy Brian Jonestown Massacre jangles and filtering them through a lifetime spent listening to The Beatles, while the more trad. Skaters offerings (‘Head On To Nowhere’, ‘Criminal Feels’) are still more nuanced second time round.
There’s a couple of clangers in there: ‘I’m Not A Punk’ is clunky and awkward, while ‘Respect The Hustle”s love letter lyrics to New York are far too obvious for its actually-rather-good, Massive Attack-y backing (Sample: “New York, New York, it’s a city of dreams/ Some come from far and wide just to see what that means”).
Together it’s a solid album, but one that still suggests a little way to go. Don’t say bye bye just yet though; by rights they should be back to up the ante another step soon enough.