Skint & Demoralised – ‘This Sporting Life’ (Review)

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Skint & Demoralised (aka Matt Abbott) has just released the new album ‘This Sporting Life’ and it’s good. Really Good.

Matt is first and foremost a performance poet and started out performing at gigs in and around his hometown of Wakefield. It was at one of these gigs that Matt was approached by a producer ‘Mini Dog’ from Sheffield, and asked if he would be interested in putting his lyrics to music. And so Skint & Demoralised was born. They were signed to Mercury in 2008, were much hyped by Steve Lamacq, Huw Stephens, Nick Grimshaw et al. and it all looked rosy, until their debut single didn’t even reach the top 40 and Skint & Demoralised were dropped by their label. After a difficult couple of months Matt picked himself up and joined forces with local musicians and was signed by Heist or Hit Records.

Let’s get straight to the point. I actually love this album. And I am very much surprised by the fact. I had heard of Skint & Demoralised and I’m ashamed to say that I wrote them off because of the parallels drawn between Matt Abbott and John Cooper Clark. I know. Who doesn’t like JCC I hear you cry? Well that person, I’m afraid, is me. It’s all a bit worthy. Political messages embedded in spoken word are not really my thing. I’m more of a Tennyson fan. But before you navigate away in disgust, this album has made me take it all back.

I hadn’t even got to the end of my first listen of the album and I had already fallen for it. BIG TIME. The opening track ‘Hogmanay Heroes’ is just perfect. The jangly guitars create a wonderful, joyous track but it’s not that that has got to me. It’s the lyrics. “It’s another year that we’re throwing to the past/and it seems that bleak ‘cos it’s going by so fast” This track is my life at the moment. Measuring the passing of time through the best moments and it’s all going a bit too quickly for my liking. This song is such a joyous interpretation of it though that I find myself counting down the minutes until summer.

That is what this album is: Summer. Everything about it just makes me want to run into a field in the sunshine, bottle of cider in one hand and a friend in the other and quite frankly run amok. ’43 degrees’ is bringing back amazing memories of last summer and lead single ‘All The Rest Is Propaganda’ is getting me all excited for the next one. It’s made me come over all emotional. ‘Voluntary Confinement’ just has stumbling back from a party on a hazy Sunday morning written all over it. You know how it is, you look and feel disgusting but you’re still revelling in the previous night’s hedonistic whiles.

If this is all sounding a bit sickening to you, have no fear, it’s not all jolly, happy jangly guitar tunes. ‘Lowlife’ is an angst filled tirade of noisy goodness. Anyone feeling a bit down should just throw themselves about to this track to re-affirm their life. ‘Maybe You Are After All?’ is perfectly juxtaposed with Wurlitzer and swirly guitars playing under a tale of unrequited love and ‘Did It All Go Wrong’ is a beautiful slow number that you can drunkenly sway to when you’re feeling all emotional after one too many.

This album is going to be the soundtrack to my summer. I just want to grab my favourite people, blast this as loud as it will go and frolic merrily through what I am hoping will be the best summer of my life.

Harriet Dawson

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