… Launch their Debut Full Length “Summer Lovers” with an Impressive Performance!
The first time I heard about Skimmed was around four years ago with their promising hit single ‘Can’t Stop’ which made them my favourite newcomers of 2009. Sadly, since then, the band flew away from my radar but I always wondered what had happened to this mysterious bunch of local musicians who captured my attention so strongly. That was until late 2012 when the band unveiled their single ‘Ronnie’ and subsequently, their debut full length “Summer Lovers” which was recently released and launched at the Old British Legion in Valletta.
On the back of ‘Ronnie’ I had been looking forward to witnessing Skimmed live. The song reveals how much Skimmed have evolved with their sound. Flirting with the new-wave genre, ‘Ronnie’ is an accomplished indie-pop song. It is no wonder that it is being given a fair amount of airplay on local radio stations.
The choice to open the set with ‘Ronnie’ was a startling surprise for me. Usually most acts tend to save their staple hit and most acclaimed work for last, but upon experiencing Skimmed’s whole electrifying set, one would come to terms with that. In fact, Skimmed is a multifaceted band and ‘Ronnie’ fits perfectly at the start.
Normally performing as a four piece band, Skimmed decided to double its members for their big occasion. With 2 backing vocalists, an extra synth-player and a percussionist, everyone was expecting a much more elaborate, expansive sound. The intimate British Legion was packed with people and the band duly delivered. Although the aforementioned “Ronnie” was marred by feedback the band settled down with the second number, the title-track “Summer Lovers”. With chugging guitars the latter reveals a darker underbelly which is better explored later on. It’s from now on that front-woman Alexandra Aquilina steals the limelight. She shakes what looked like a nervy first few minutes and she chats very comfortably with the crowd. With the power to captivate the audience, she can be a fiery femme-fatale at her most strident and a sassy singer at her most sickeningly sweet. Third song on the set-list, “Sunday Drive” shows how inspiring Skimmed have become. Imagine a big 60s girl-group taking over Bloc Party’s “Helicopter” and you are almost there. The infectious hand-clapping between the lead-singer and the backing vocalists add a seductive edge to what is one of the most pleasing songs of the band. “God Will Take A Note” is another exhilaratingly uplifting number in the mould of “Sunday Drive”, with a huge sing-along chorus of ‘oohs’ which managed to get the crowd moshing.
With the song “Fingernails”, the band tones things down. A rare pensive moment, the song is about to break at any time, but intelligently the band holds on until the end. The thrilling “Stripper” depicts the band’s sinister side. One of the highlights of the night, the song breaks lose after merely 15 seconds in, only to swallow everything back.
Possessing a pulsating bass-line, “Stripper” continues to oscillate between a quiet verse and a loud chorus until it reaches a crescendo by the end. On the back of this song one can fully appreciate Alexandra Aquilina’s vocal range, she can whisper a word and by next one she is totally enraged and screaming.
The band’s rendition of OMD’s “Enola Gay” proves to be a breather after two intensive songs. However, Skimmed venture into their darker repertoire for the rest of the night. And it seems to me as if the band is more comfortable delving into the post-punk territory. Guitarist Daniel Borg has a way of creating a wall of sound with his sharp, vociferous attacks on his guitar and he comes to life with songs like “Ghost In The Mirror”, “Freak Show” and “Devil’s Alibi”. Another stand out moment “Fire In The Disco” is a slow-burner that transcends into a roaring chorus. This should provide the band with another hit single, if it were to be released to the masses.
Bringing the show to an encore the band leaves the final two album tracks for a climatic ending. Pen-ultimate song “Isobel” is their most accomplished song to date. Having tuned in to the song on Sound Cloud before, this epic is a further manifestation of the band’s new found maturity. Swansong “Dream Girl” brings the show into a full circle. A reflective number, the song is a fairytale ending to what was a truly exalting performance from one of Malta’s finest bands.
I was so impressed with the gig that I couldn’t resist playing “Summer Lovers” on my way back home. I continued to question why it took me so long to realize the quality of this band…’Better late than never!’ was the only solace I could find! Skimmed have won me over completely with their performance and surely they will not be slipping from my radar again!