Funnily enough Skaters’ debut LP Manhattan reeks of New York City. It’s not only due to the album’s title however but also by the quartet’s HQ and the fact that the New York punk scene of the 70s answers for a significant portion of the band’s inspiration. While the band can only count one native New Yorker among their ranks, the group came together in the Big Apple in search of the place credited with announcing punk to the world via the words “Hey ho, let’s go”.
In reality, the music on Manhattan bears little resemblance to classic punk – instead showcasing a diverse range of influences which make for a rather intriguing listen. For example, the first thing you’ll hear on the record is the rickety sounds of the New York subway (these sounds of the city are a recurring feature) before a positively retro hip-hop beat sneaks in. The band then storm onto the stage and deliver 120 seconds of relentless garage-rock. Next up is the more melodically-driven first single ‘Miss Teen Massachusetts’ which boasts a chorus hook that The Vaccines are most likely kicking themselves for not getting to first while ‘Deadbolt’s fantastic chorus would sound right at home nestled in on a Nine Black Alps record.
Unfortunately the record cannot completely maintain the exciting ideas after the bouncy reggae groove of ‘Bandbreaker’ mixes things up unexpectedly. The chorus that ‘Schemers’ brings pales in comparison to the memorable melodies heard earlier on and ‘Symptomatic’ while not a poorly-written song by any means, simply refuses to stray from one lacklustre level for its entirety. The faintly Clash-sounding ‘Fear Of The Knife’ plays the reggae card again and this time throws electronic drums into the equation also but due to its placing on the album acts as a welcome change to the previous songs.
By the final three tracks the group have really regained their energy as ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’ embraces a distinctly punk power chord progression yet retains the group’s knack for a fun hook. Finally romantic closing track ‘This Much I Care’ finds vocalist Michael Ian Cummings unapologetically confessing “I just wanna go out for your money” over the record’s wildest guitars and powerful drums. Energetic, addictive and enthralling: this is how that whole ‘pop-punk’ thing should be done.