“It’s a feat of songwriting to get all the information across in that limited amount of time, to cram a verse AND a chorus and maybe a middle eight in there too. And all played on equipment that sounds like it’s held together with gaffer tape and covered with smears of jam.”
Dublin’s most prolific supergroup have returned, with their second ep of this calendar year. That’s pretty swish going, but it doesn’t end there. By year’s end they’ll have spliced both releases into the Long Player format, neatly sidestepping the fact that the two eps combined clock in at 35 minutes, which doesn’t seem “long” at all. Well, it’s more than enough. Most debut albums get in at around the 4 minute mark, what with it pretty much being one song repeated ten times. Not naming names, or anything.
Skelocrats pick up where they left off last time, and why not, that was working out okay for them. The titular opening track starts with waves of noise on top of noise, from which a song emerges, and just as it’s getting interesting it ends, slicing it off, mid melody. There’s a time constraint ethos at work here which has to be admired. Bitten By The Bug employs the filthy surf-pop oeuvre we have already come to expect. This one, propelled by fuzzy guitars and tambourines seems to recount a story based in Kiltipper. Surf pop, indeed. Baby Reappraisal sounds roughly the same, initially, before its dinky chorus lilts in, reminding me of adroit Dublin pop artists Saville (sadly missed). Skelocrats could be in danger of beginning to have an idiosyncratic sound but keep it different over the course of the record by varying the vocalists throughout the tracks. Each of Bronwyn Murphy-White, Michael Stevens, Paddy Hanna and Pádraig Cooney gets a go, and together they create some nice harmonies that hover in the background, adding an extra layer. It’s Hanna who bangs out Beat Your Buddies, a kind of Bonanza theme tune composed in a back of a moving transit van. Bronwyn Murphy-White croons on Instant Mummification, a song that sounds like its sinking beneath the waves as it’s going on.
There’s literally nothing cooler than self referentiality so they’ve got a song called Skelocrats in Heaven. It’s a subeditor’s dream. With I Keep My Load Light and It Takes All My Time the pace never relents. Only one tune has the gall to go over the three minute mark. It’s a feat of songwriting to get all the information across in that limited amount of time, to cram a verse AND a chorus and maybe a middle eight in there too. And all played on equipment that sounds like it’s held together with gaffer tape and covered with smears of jam. Possibly inadvertently Skelocrats are now the best thing on Popical Island (That’s not faint praise, by the way.) Whether the smash and grab of these tiny chunks of punk pop (in the Buzzcocks sense, rather than the Offspring) will work over the course of the album or whether they may have to go epic (4 minutes, perhaps?) to keep our attention remains to be seen, but up to now, it’s been 35 minutes of Skelocrat Heaven. See? See what I did. These guys make it easy.