A record full of top notch guitar music is all you get. Nothing more, nothing less.
I spent three-quarters of a day in Chennai. I saw apartment-door name-boards no shorter than a foot rule. Above and around these doors, I saw makeshift shrines; terracotta busts of fifteen faces of fifteen different gods rendered brown by dust. I saw men in white safari suits sip ghetto rum from martini glasses. One of the men had what looked like the butt of a pistol peeking out of his breast pocket. I saw gigantic jewelry stores, some of which occupied whole buildings. I saw no women on the streets after seven. I saw many things in that three-quarters of a day I spent in Chennai, none of which gave me the impression that a city like it could incubate a band like Skrat.
You could say the same about Adam & the Fish Eyed Poets or The Shakey Rays, but that’s beside the point. Chennai is fast becoming the unlikeliest conservancy tank in India for top notch guitar music and Skrat’s sophomore effort Bring Out the Big Guns reinforces the city’s legacy.
Skrat play guitar driven rock ‘n’ roll high on danceability. I could draw a parallel between the band and The Lightyears Explode. Both bands’ rhythm tracks are frantic without compromising groove. Both have incredibly energetic frontmen. Both bank heavily on the titanium-reinforced hooks they save for the chorus. Both seem to function with the same essential blueprint in mind. But while The Lightyears Explode might derive energy from stoned apathy, it’s as if Skrat have bunsen burners under their asses. They’re faster, heavier, meaner and more pissed off.
Bring Out the Big Guns is just as free of compromise as it is of pretense. A record full of top notch guitar music is all you get. Nothing more, nothing less. The defining characteristic of the record is its spontaneity. It gives the feeling of everything exploding all at once. The tracks seem far from compositions crafted with time and deliberation. They’re more reminiscent of a game of dodgeball played with hand grenades.
It’s not hard to discern that the band have used the album as a vent. They’re mad about something and they’ve let the music do the talking. This move is fraught with risk. When you’re angry, you’re highly susceptible to unintentional hilarity. Remember what happened to Vanilla Ice when he tried his hand at nu metal? Thankfully, on Bring Out the Big Guns, the band doesn’t succumb. They only serve to prove what Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club – “The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.”
So far, we’ve established that Skrat are a great band. We’ve established that they make great music. The evidence is on the record. But, there’s one aspect in which they leave themselves open to criticism – originality. There’s nothing on this record that I haven’t heard before.
That’s not to say the record sounds dated or staid. It doesn’t. The problem I have with Bring Out the Big Guns isn’t unlike the problem I had with Bloom, the record Beach House dropped last year. It was a phenomenal record that just didn’t seem to go anywhere. But with Beach House, I had reason to expect motion. The band exists in a climate of constant innovation. When everyone around you is turning music on its head, you’re expected to follow suit.
In the context of Skrat, should I give a fuck? Is it fair of me to accuse the band of something they’re not doing, especially when no one expects them to be doing it anyway, especially when I should just be glad a band as earnest and powerful as them is carrying on making music and refusing the let the system beat them? In the face of the music, none of these questions matter. The hallmark of good music is it makes me run out of things to say. And, consequently, I can’t tell you if we can excuse Skrat’s apparent unoriginality. I can’t tell you what the music stands for or what it embodies. I can’t utter another word about the record ‘cause I’m running out of words already.
Buy Bring Out The Big Guns here.