What did I expect when I picked up Skunk Anansie’s latest release, Wonderlustre? In truth, I was hoping for that heady mix of honest metal riffs and searing raw female vocal lines; I was hoping for a return to the vibe that was defined by their 1995 debut Paranoid and Sunburnt.
Paranoid and Sunburnt was 15 years ago, and Skunk Anansie have matured and grown away from that raw tone with each subsequent album. Now, a decade after their last studio album, they continue that evolution with Wonderlustre.
Skunk Anansie define their own unique brand of alt-rock. Skin delivers her stunning, haunting and often melancholy vocals, frequently offset with her trademark self harmonies. There is a tighter, more refined sound, and tracks seem fuller and more well rounded. There is a real mix of styles, from pop-dance tracks such as ‘The Sweetest Thing’ to the pop-punk-rock ‘It Doesn’t Matter’. Tracks like ‘My Ugly Boy’ and ‘Talk Too Much’ feel a little more like the Skunk Anansie of old, but there is no ‘Selling Jesus’ or ‘Hedonisum’ here.
Wonderlustre is not original, but it is unique and distinct – an intelligent and mature album, with a sound you won’t find else where. It won’t be for everyone, but Wonderlustre, with its mix of musical vibes, certainly has a broader appeal than previous outings. Not a metal classic, and perhaps not even for metalheads at all. But once I was over the initial disappointment that I wasn’t going see a return of 1995, I realised just how horrible that would have been.