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SKINDRED Smile

By Nathan Dufour, Great White North
Friday, October 27, 2023 @ 8:17 AM


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SKINDRED
Smile

Earache Records




Look, I can't explain it with science, but you cannot be in a bad mood and listen to SKINDRED at the same time. It's just that simple. When discussing elements of pure joy that music provides to us, as a human race, the band is nary mentioned in such discourses - and this should be a crime.

For those who don't know, SKINDRED have been the best band you've heard on TikTok in about a millisecond, at the speed of that platform. Go look it up then jam the debut album, Babylon in full, just as a starting point to the smile that won't leave your tough guy hesher face for the rest of the whole discography. Seemingly keenly aware of the effect they have on their audience, the newest opus is simply titled Smile.

The ingredients that make up the magic of SKINDRED are nu-metal and Reggae, propelled by stalwart leader Benji Webbe, who formed the band with three-fourths of DUB WAR after that band's disintegration (they're back, by the way). Decidedly softer in approach, SKINDRED has embodied the lighter pop sensibilities hinted at with DUB WAR's deadly seriousness. Now, that is not to say that lyrically there is any less weight behind Webbe's words, but the sound is not as claustrophobic and is allowed to breathe a little deeper. Textures and nuance have long been hallmarks of SKINDRED and the band flirt perhaps more than ever with those qualities on Smile. Not that you'd know it on pressing play...

Starting out strong as usual, the combination of "Our Religion" and "Gimme That Boom" immediately establishes that SKINDRED have, indeed, arrived once again with a fresh platter of genre splatter for your ear holes. Follow up "Set Fazers" is maddeningly addictive, an earworm destined for about the centre of your brain thanks to a repeated chorus that's absolutely bullet proof. The timbre of Webbe is undoubtedly the star of the show on Smile, as it has been for the just over 20 years of SKINDRED's existence - the man does not command so much as demand attention.

The halfway point of the album, "L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)" may seem like an outlier but really isn't, the band leaning fully into the Reggae side of its personality with slight dancehall flourishes, providing a great little breather for the listener while still somehow absolutely dripping saccharine and goodwill. It's a standout track, and one that provides a sorely needed message of positivity in a world very much consumed by the negative.

And onward, the back half of Smile is as much a joy as the front, the band bringing the party in no uncertain terms, culminating in the album's finale "Unstoppable". Unrelentingly positive and truly life affirming, the title encapsulates the totality of Smile and, moreover, SKINDRED's trajectory. Have a good time, and press play again.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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