‘Manhattan’ by New York City rock band Skaters lands into early 2014, exposing more than a sly glance to similarly Big Apple obsessed bands of recent years. ‘To Be Young In NYC’ is a song right on this line of thought, coming across as somewhat arrogant and indulgent, perhaps a feeling exclusive to listeners who have never had the privilege of visiting the city. In reality, much of the band are from Los Angeles- and guitarist Joshua Hubbard is English.
The album really struggles to get going, the opening tracks all covering well-treaded ground as ‘Deadbolt’ sends out a warbling chorus with background riffs that fail to excite. This is followed by the weak ‘Band Breaker’ that harks on a reggae beat which leads to one being unable to take the song seriously.
However the latter half of the album picks up with knowing hints of The Strokes and Pulp in the single ‘Schemers’. A chorus that deserves to be sung along to in late night indie discos along with ironically-self-aware ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’. Add on the lovingly floating beat of ‘Symptomatic’ and fast-paced closer ‘This Much I Care’ and the album genuinely contributes something to the genre, with a really strong sound.
And yet, these moments are tagged back by the too close for comfort Vampire Weekend-esque rhythm of ‘Fear Of The Knife’ that delivers echoed vocals and a very familiar structure that would indeed be inventive – had it not been done. That is the overall sense of this album – perfectly enjoyable at points and fairly decent if you don’t overthink it. But while a possibly good stepping stone, it is hardly a revolution.
Perhaps most disappointing of all is the distorted grind of ‘Nice Hat’ that ends by featuring an off-beat Taxi Driver conversation skit… (Only in NYC, see, it’s totally whacky and hilarious!). I’m unconvinced.