The best album of its kind I've heard in a long time
Oh how I was dreading reviewing this album. The words punk and Blink 182 put shivers up my spine, so much that I nearly slipped a disc. It's not that I dislike punk, it's the so called contemporary pop punk that irritates my bowels. Maybe because it has little to do with the anarchic attitude of the original punk movement in the late seventies, and just an excuse for a lot of rock wannabes to strike the devil horns in the air. I was holding my head in shame because, as a reviewer, I was hanging on to my narrow-minded view of punk before objectively listening to S.K.W.A.D.
Hailing from Pontypridd (The home of rock n roll), S.K.W.A.D was formed in April 2004 from the remains of what was PsychoSquad, who were a name on the underground culminating in an appearance at the Reading Festival. I have to let it be known now that S.K.W.A.D is possibly the worst name for any band in the history of the human race. It's also an abbreviation, lord knows what S.K.W.A.D actually stands for, if it stands for anything at all. I love to be proven wrong though, and S.K.W.A.D's debut album, 'The Dead Still Dance,' has dispelled my opinion of modern day punk, and brought home the fact home that a few bands can actually write some damn fine tunes.
This isn't your normal cheesy punk rock worthless trash of the likes of Blink 182. This is a more varied and well thought out album, bared out by the list of different influences on their press release. Even though they list bands such as Ben Folds to Life of Agony, you can't really hear it in the music, but I think it caused their creative cycle to have a diverse quality whilst not venturing too far from the direction of the band. It's not an easy skill to master, and not many bands can claim to have such a talent. 'The Useless' for example, with its driving rhythm, is very different in attitude and delivery to 'Hopes and Reasons,' but both tracks sound very much S.K.W.A.D.
The production is clean, tidy and powerful. The drums especially, sound perfectly produced and sit well in the mix. Todd's vocals are solid, and not whiny in the slightest. Because of this, the great collection of melodies and infectious choruses on this album are instantly likeable. Even the two demos tagged on the end, 'Harold Bishop' and 'Dress like you' sound great, and a relief because they allow the enjoyment of this disc to continue just that little bit longer.
For myself I heard a lot of Filter, Helmet and Fireside in S.K.W.A.D's music, and if I am being truthful I would say S.K.W.A.D are more rock that goes on a date with punk, sleeps with it and doesn't call it the next day. Unfortunately the band is British, which usually means they'll be confined to playing the small pubs and clubs. With the recent rock revolution and its drift in to the mainstream, I think S.K.W.A.D will fit quite nicely within the hullabaloo of media friendly rock. I just hope they're not too late or get lost in the musical laundry basket with all the talentless, manufactured wannabes. It would be a real shame if this were to happen.