Skindred are more than happy with their undisputed status as one of the best live bands on the planet, but it’s criminal how the band have yet to replicate their in-the-flesh popularity in the world of album sales. You can read just how pissed off they get when you call them the music industry’s best-kept secret. All four Skindred albums to date have fizzed with infectious energy and bulged with irresistible anthems, and yet mainstream radio and the media in general remain largely impervious to Benji Webbe and his comrades’ charms.
For those of us who love this band – and we are growing in number – it seems utterly bizarre that this unique and extraordinary quartet have failed to become major festival headliners by this point. As a result, the most important question to ask about Kill The Power is whether or not it contains the right stuff to bowl over the huge mainstream audience that Skindred have long deserved.
First impressions suggest that Kill The Power is, at the very least, the most radio-friendly record its creators have written to date. Despite still containing all of the genre-blending mischief and pit-friendly punch that we have come to adore over the years, this is an album dominated by giant hooks and insidious melodies, Benji’s effortless versatility providing, as ever, a wonderfully loveable focal point.
The explosive moments that work so well when Skindred routinely take venues and festivals apart are here in abundance too, of course, but whether due to their decision to work with songwriting legend Russ Ballard or simply because their compositional blades have been sharpened over the last 16 years, it is the incisive thrust of the choruses that make Kill The Power an album with genuine crossover potential.
Already familiar to most Skindred fans, the title track and the bubbling, boisterous Ninja are perhaps the only things here that conform to the blueprint the band have laid down previously. Elsewhere, it is a refined pop sensibility that casts the most potent spell: on the anthemic We Live, the defiant bounce of The Kids Are Right Now and, most lethally, the rampaging radio-rock singalong of Saturday – a surefire live classic if ever we’ve heard one – that sound most like the kind of songs that could facilitate Skindred’s integration into an increasingly eclectic pop marketplace. If Saturday doesn’t get played on national radio then clearly there is no justice, not to mention no one with an ounce of taste or awareness in control of the airwaves. These are brilliantly conceived and executed modern rock songs, infused with a devotion to sonic diversity but utterly focused on the fine art of raising spirits, engaging brains and moving feet.
As comfortable inciting a riot with beats and bass on the thunderous Ruling Force as they are exhibiting a thrilling lightness of touch on the acoustic shuffle of the closing More Fire, Skindred have never sounded more relevant or ready to take on the world as they do here. Let’s just hope the world is listening.