Yak Folks Y’Are

Their problem was always that they were too big for their own bloody good...

Their problem was always that they were too big for their own bloody good: months before they had even signed to first label One Little Indian, [a]Skunk Anansie[/a] were already the completely finished article, stormtrooping around London’s Borderline like [a]Rage Against The Machine[/a] fronted by a hyperactive black shaven-headed lady singer with mysterious sexual leanings. Quite where they could actually drag their rap-rock beast on to from there was impossible to discern.

Half-a-decade on, however, the true horror of the Skunk evolution has been revealed: following on from ‘Paranoid & Sunburnt’ and ‘Stoosh’, Skin‘s gang have gone for the big hokey-jokey jackpot with ‘Post Orgasmic Chill’, their first since a multimillion-pound move to Virgin and surely the crappest album title since ‘Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts’. Throw in their time-honoured tradition of making an astoundingly unsubtle shock-rock noise which sounds like a chunder of cheetahs in an abattoir and you too will be sprinting for the nearest nuclear fallout bunker, clutching your vinyl copy of ‘Tigermilk‘.

Thing is, though, their third album really is rather good. Smartly realising that to bore the public is not how to shift units, ‘Post Orgasmic Chill’ fairly rattles along, careering between taut, bellowing riffs and epic, sonically-perfect ballads (see ‘We Don’t Need Who You Think You Are’, ‘Secretly’, ‘You’ll Follow Me Down’), that make Garbage look like fluffy hamsters on the timid treadmill of pop. Throw in the odd nod to modern culture via dashes of drum’n’bass, add an exquisite production job (shiny, but without an asinine sheen), then stand back and watch America collapse at your feet like a sick dog.

Crucially, for all the band’s passionate ideals and oddball aspirations, [a]Skunk Anansie[/a] can be resolutely traditional about this whole rock malarkey: the title refers to post-touring comedown and is riddled with the sort of exotic effects which [I]always [/I]adorn band’s third albums, and they even dare to have a song called ‘On My Hotel TV’, which is such a desperately trad on-the-road composition you almost suspect it only made the final cut as some bizarre kind of joke.

But when one is clobbered by something like the violent thrashing of ‘And This Is Nothing That I Thought I Had’ or the dynamite squeal of ‘The Skank Heads’ you are once again transported to a world of sweating, swearing, righteous indignation and really rather loud metal riffs, and if that doesn’t seduce a generation of troubled teens then nothing ever will. Because [a]Skunk Anansie[/a] have always been big. And now they are very, very clever.

Their guitarist is called Ace, y’know…