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Skylights - 'Skylights' EP Review


1. What You Are

2. Nothing Left To Say

3. YRA

4. Take Me Somewhere

5. Britannia

6. Driving Me Away

7. Darkness Falls

There can’t be many situations in life that haven’t been referenced by The Simpsons at some point, possibly because it’s been going on for so long, that it’s the cartoon equivalent of an infinite number of monkeys trying to write the works of Shakespeare (pretty sure they even referenced this, although they were typing Dickens). As I’ve got older, I often recall the episode ‘Homerpalooza’ where the Simpsons attend a festival, and Homer finds himself completely out of place. In particular, there is a flashback scene, where Abe Simpson explains the phenomenon of growing older, to a teenage Homer:

“I used to be with it, until they changed what it was. Now what I am with isn't it and what is it seems weird and scary to me.”

I find this scene resonating with me more now, as my 5-year-old son sings chart songs that speak of a life which means absolutely nothing to me, and often sound utterly fucking awful (that’s not just his singing, the original versions don’t sound any better, in fact they’re sometimes worse).

It was with some relief then, that I heard York band Skylights’ promo CD, and immediately felt like I knew where I was. Skylights are unashamedly retro, their blurb refers to bands that made their name at least two decades ago (two decades, surely that can’t be right?) Opening track ‘What You Are’ is a great statement of intent, with a very quick fade into a squall of guitar and percussion before the vocal kicks in. There’s a lot of guitar on this song, as there is throughout the record, very riff heavy, but I didn’t feel overburdened with solos. There’s not really much let up until the final track, ‘Darkness Falls’, and even that has a pretty big finish despite a mellow first half. ‘YRA’ is my stand out track, an anthemic barnstormer inspired by a football chant (the band would say it’s a Leeds United chant, but I first heard it on the terraces of York City’s Bootham Crescent). I think that probably says a lot about the band, like many of their Britpop forebears, this is music best enjoyed whilst supping a pint and wearing Adidas Sambas and Fred Perry polo shirts. I’m not meaning to sound snobby about it; I like a pint, I favour an Adidas and have my fair share of Fred Perrys filling up my t-shirt drawer, but make no mistake, this is the music of the terraces. If you’re after something ground breaking, suggested by a bearded hipster barista serving coffee filtered through a handwoven cheese cloth, this probably isn’t for you.

This is where I find myself conflicted, does music have to be ground breaking? Part of me feels that artistic expression moves on, that tastes develop, and nostalgia has little place in new music. But then I remember that many great artists have borrowed from the past, and is there any point in making music that is innovative for innovation’s sake, regardless of whether or not it sounds any good? Skylights sound good, and when it all boils down to it, isn’t that what really matters?

Review - Jon Stokes

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