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10 April 2013

Eat Skull - 'Wild and Inside' (Siltbreeze)

Eat Skull's second album is something I've consistently listened to since it came out almost four years ago, and it makes a lot of sense to me. This gang just pulls everything together in the right balance, making records that are strident, yet not cocky; welcoming but not obvious; quirky but not obtuse. 'Stick to the Formula' lays things out on side 1 track 1 with a knowing smirk, and listening back to back with Sick to Death, nothing has really changed, except the songwriting has leaped ahead a notch. There's perhaps a bit more of an embrace of the 80s Kiwi sound here - 'Heaven's Stranger' sounds exactly like early Clean. It's also my favourite song by Eat Skull, with it's slightly-too-many-words for the chorus line ringing out like an indefinite anthem. 'Happy Submarine' continues this feel - lay an earnest, upbeat male vocal over a reverb drenched electric guitar and minimal tambourine - it's followed by 'Talkin' Bro in the Wall Blues' which is a slow ballad, at least by Eat Skull standards, and like the first album, it ends with a more subdued, almost folky feel ('Dawn in the Face' and 'Oregon Dreaming'). The aggro side is most evident in 'Nuke Mecca' which somehow works despite it's ridiculous nature. The lyrics are there to be heard; nothing is hidden, yet it's still somewhat elusive. One wonders if Eat Skull could express some true pain, or show any sign of a struggle, but this is the bedroom psychedelia movement in a nutshell - good times on a pinpoint aesthetic. It's a very short trip, too. I remember that a good friend of mine did not match my enthusiasm for Eat Skull, citing this band as one of the reasons he felt alienated from contemporary underground rock; he saw this as vapid, cheap and empty music that played it safe and just followed a cookiecutter pattern. Maybe he's right, because I feel his alienation with much of the current wave, so i think I've just made an exception for Eat Skull because they push exactly the right buttons for me. This isn't meant as a criticism - their output since this has definitely tried to open some doors, and I'm glad to hear it.

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