High energy pop-rock with a true American vibe
Denim Skillet sound exactly as you would expect them to. Take three guys from the Pacific North West USA, influenced by 70s, Southern, blues, and pop-rock and you get a peculiar brand of fun, radio-friendly tunes that wouldn't have felt out of place back in the 90s. They stand up and sell their life stories via these three-minute energetic ditties, and as such embody a spirit of anti-establishment ambition and good time rock-an'-roll.
What you get out of this record depends on what you want. For example, 'The Calling' and 'The Real Me' are energetic, joyous songs made for a live set. 'Grey' is a masterclass in refined, soulful guitar work. There's a hint of more complex stuff in 'Green World' and 'Pain', as they reach out into ballad territory. But it hits a bum note on 'Reach Out', which overreaches (pun intended) itself in trying to use unusual drum fills and vocal arrangements that just don't work. Even 'Something New' sounds slightly off-kilter in going for a heavier sound without the pop sensibilities to balance it out. If your whole game plan is based around three-chord chugging beats and danceable melodies, have the confidence to stick to what you're good at. Unlike a lot of albums, having a particular sound and structure to their songs gives Denim Skillet an earthy, honest presence.
This isn't one for you if you're after technical perfection. Yes, Jason Swanlund's voice breaks up occasionally, the harmonies are wonky and beats are missed. Heartfelt and experienced as the lyrics are, it doesn't save them from some proper turkeys ('Love's A Wall' is one step away from Country and Western parody). But the guitar work has a gritty, improvised quality and they sound like A Proper Live Group. You can relate to these guys. They sound like they practice in a garage near you. Which, depending on your personal opinion, is either a very good or absolutely terrible thing.
What it lacks in refinement and variation it more than makes up for in soul and fun. Great for kicking back to on a warm evening.