Skaters’ debut album Manhattan is packed full of interesting material. On the face of it, it’s an album that shouldn’t really make sense due to the diversity, but it does. It goes without saying that they’ve selected their best work to help promote the album release but that doesn’t mean that the rest of it is just filler, not by any stretch.
Manhattan opens with ‘One of Us’. The sharp, punky guitar accompanied with trembling bass and Michael talking us through a typically frantic scurry around NYC that’s cut from waking up in his clothes after a party to “Fuckin’ around in the rain”. The track ends as abruptly as it opened and sets us up nicely for what’s to follow. It’s one of two tracks on the album with that NYC punk feel to it, the other being ‘Nice Hat’ which appears late on and is essentially a blur of a track at just over a minute and a half before leading into a recorded conversation between a couple of band members and an eccentric cab driver which turns out to be quite funny, his singing voice isn’t too shabby either – quick, sign him up!
We’d previously had a taste of a few tracks from the album with several online sharing and pay-for-play outlets hosting them. One of those, ‘Miss Teen Massachusetts’, which has been found doing the rounds on Radio 1 and the likes recently, is a chart-friendly hit that stands out from the rest. I can see why they pushed this out as a single close to the album release. It’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head instantly and the catchy drum-lines certainly don’t harm that. I’ve found myself tapping along to that a few times to the annoyance of those around me. ‘Deadbolt’, another which we’d had the privilege of hearing a few months ago is a cool, dark and edgy tale mixed with synth and an undulating chorus. It’s a complete trip and, for me, another track that got them the reputation of picking up where The Strokes left off.
With a cool reggae vibe we take a fairly unexpected, but very satisfying, turn with ‘Band Breaker’. Funky just doesn’t cover it. On first listening, I was ready to spark up a joint, lie back and chill the hell out. But then I had no weed, nowhere to lie down and I reckon my employers would’ve frowned upon it. It’s just too cool and no surprise to us that this was the track that Skaters mentioned when we asked them which one folk should listen to when the album was released. It’s not alone though, ‘Fear Of The Knife’ is another laid back reggae-fueled, feel good track that bobs along nicely but it weirdly segues into their biggest single so far, ‘I Wanna Dance’, the track that caught my attention when I watched them support Deap Vally at Òran Mór towards the tail end of last year. It’s simple, poppy and bright. One of those songs that shows Skaters don’t always take themselves too seriously and can have some fun with what they do.
Skaters love a soundbite and what comes across as a tongue-in-cheek excerpt of a conversation between two NYC, hipster socialites kicks off ‘To Be Young’. A song that tells another story about New York living, which sounds like a pretty wild, party lifestyle against the backdrop of ambitions and goals. “To be young, in New York City” rings out the chorus. It’s another toe-tapper and that seems to be a solid theme within the album. This toe-tap-inducing nature is showcased in two more tracks, ‘Schemers’ and ‘Symptomatic’. I personally can’t sit still when I listen to them and I’d be surprised if they don’t have you annoying the folk around you with your flailing limbs when you give them a whirl.
Manhattan goes out with a bang. Closing track ‘This Much I Care’ powers along with a bass line that feels like it’s hopped up on coke. It’s a bold move to put such a catchy track at the very end of an album but it certainly leaves you feeling a bit of a buzz. The fact that the album clocks in at 34 minutes shows you that it’s a bit of a whirlwind and that only makes me want to hear more. So Skaters, if you’re reading this, we want more!
You can catch the guys live in Glasgow on Monday 3rd March when they headline King Tuts Wah Wah Hut. We’ll see you there.