Matt Skiba and the Sekrets      Kuts       Superball Music

Matt Skiba and the Sekrets return with their sophomore effort, Kuts. Following up the heavily anthemic Babylon, the band (which also features AFI’s Hunter Burgan) slow the pace and darken the landscape a bit more for their second Superball Music release.  The lack of big, catchy choruses here  surprised me at first, but repeated listens revealed a depth that Babylon didn’t have.

While, the choruses aren’t all big and sing alongy, Skiba and his Sekrets still offer lots of bouncy, melodic tunes that aren’t entirely unlike The Mission’s better works. “She Said” has a punk rock swagger that makes you want to pogo and throw up your hands. It’s an almost pop punk bounce, but the lack of ridiculous parts and a Chuck Berry style guitar solo keep it on the up and up.

“Lonely and Kold” and “Krashing” have the dark eighties vibe that Skiba has mastered at this point in his career. His voice commands you to listen as the music just rolls underneath it, enabling the listener to focus on the lyrics really easily. “Never Believe” finds Skiba attempting a croon set to a mostly acoustic backdrop splattered with some really nice piano work that helps set the song apart from the other Kuts. It’s got an almost Achtung Baby flare to it musically. “Vienna,” meanwhile, ends the album on an intimate note hearkening back to Damnesia or the Haven’t You? EP’s renderings. It’s the perfect end to a really good album as, in my opinion, Skiba is at his best when armed with only an acoustic guitar.

Overall, I really dig Kuts. The band didn’t abandon what made Babylon a classic but they also didn’t repeat themselves, a fact that surprised me. The darker overall sound and production hearkens back to a part of music that is sorely missed by this reviewer. While it’s not as anthemic as I had hoped, the deeper, more thoughtful approach, especially lyrically, makes it well worth your time. When it comes to exploring life’s relationships, no one in modern music can touch Skiba.


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