The London reggae/ska/dub group The Skints’ third album FM is going to give them a lot more attention around the globe, including the U.S. It’s certainly deserving! The Skints are a breath of fresh air and offering something new to the reggae scene. If you loved The Skints’ previous album, you’re going to love this one as well!
The Skints have been on the radar for others for a few years but sadly, I’m just noticing them now. For whatever reason, I never really heard their stuff besides 1 or 2 tracks off their last album Part & Parcel (the end of last year). Once I heard the news that they were releasing this album, I decided to finally listen to a lot of their music and was completely blown away! It’s one of those moments you realize you made a giant mistake of not listening to a band, even though you hear others talking about them. I just love the London style to their music, and really dig the blend of reggae, ska, dub, punk with just a hint of hip-hop.
With their latest album, FM, they venture more into reggae and it’s probably their best album to date. While others might like their early ska career, I prefer their last 2 albums where it’s just straight up reggae. You can tell that this is where they are comfortable and honestly, they sound the best playing this style of reggae. What makes The Skints stand out from other reggae bands is their English style. A hybrid of dub/DJ, hip-hop, 2 tone ska, songs about London and the fact that they have 3 vocalists. I love each singer’s style in their own way. Marcia has a Lily Allen vibe but a lot better & more skilled. I’m sure she can actually remember the lyrics to her own songs on stage as well. Joshua has the DJ/toaster style and Jamie has the smooth, roots-reggae vocals. In a way, it feels like you’re listening to 3 different reggae/ska bands.
FM features 15 tracks in total, although there’s 4 short tracks that are radio DJ filler. The band was paying tribute to the radio but I prefer if those tracks weren’t on the album since interrupts the flow of the album. The second track “This Town” is the band’s first single and features guest vocals from Tippie Irie and Horseman. It’s a great reggae tune and a fitting first single. The next track “In The Night” is a good one as well. The Skints’ drummer Jamie sings the lead on it and Horseman guest vocals again. It’s crazy to think that Jamie sings and plays drums; since doing one of those things seems hard enough. I definitely like a lot of the songs Jamie sings on but when you think about, all the members sing on most of the tracks together in some fashion.
We get more and more singing from Marcia and I’m certainly happy about that. She has a sweet sounding singing voice, and it shines in “Come To You.” That track is one of the very few that is somewhat ska-ish. The track reminds me of something Marcia Griffiths has done as well. The highlights on the album for me include the tracks “My War,” “Tazer Beam” and “The Forest For The Trees.” Those 3 songs I keep listening to over and over. “My War,” which I didn’t even realize, is a cover of Black Flag! I definitely prefer The Skints’ version of the song. “Tazer Beam” feels like a Steel Pulse song to me and I absolutely love it. It certainly a track that could have been mistaken from being made in the 70s and 80s, minus the whole taser part I suppose.
If I had to pick a favorite track, “The Forest For The Trees” is could easily be that. I love when the flute and reggae mix. Sammy Kay had a few songs with the flute in it and I said he should have made an entire album with it. Maybe I’m just a big Tull fan. I don’t know why the song is my favorite but it’s one that I keep listening to over and over. Jamie’s smooth vocals and Marcia’s vocals are awesome, and Josh’s verse is a highlight of the song for me.
Towards the end of the album, “Eyes in the Back of the My Head” stands out because it’s a hip-hop/reggae hybrid song. Plus, if you thought The Skints were already cool; wait until you hear them drop Game of Thrones references in their songs! Since this review is longer than anything I’ve ever written on this site, I’ll sum up this review by just saying: Just get this album and you can send me thank you emails after.
Bottom Line: The Skints have made a fantastic reggae album!
Notable Tracks: This Town, In the Night, Come To You, My War, Tazer Beam, The Forest For The Trees, Eyes in the Back of My Head