SKUUND – “Social Animal” Album review

logo skuund

Without a doubt, Skuund is a strange beast. Hidden from the eyes of regular social media users, moving silently through underground indie landscape, rare sightings are observed on the pages of eclectic musical zines where lovers of everything obscure are praising their delicate and ethereal sounds. Skuund reminds me of a nocturnal creature, a shy endangered specimen that is easily spooked by noise, virtual pop starlets and people in general. You can only discover them by accident or through solid musical knowledge and even then, you need to count yourself lucky.

Yet, once you find them, you will be mesmerized by the cold dark tones of their guitars, melodic drumming, heavy bass and melancholic cry of the synth. You will find yourself falling in love with a mixture of cold wave, dream pop, shoegaze and alternative rock. I have a strange feeling that Skuund would feel right at home about 40 years ago, at the beginning of the 80’s, sharing stages with equal unknowns – Depeche Mode and Joy Division somewhere in a dive bar in a god-forsaken part of Macclesfield. Or doing their fifth session for John Peel in the basement of the old Maida Vale studios.   

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Skuund are not newcomers when it come to creating music. The band was founded in 2003 in Poland and have released several EP’s and an album to date. Their first release, conveniently entitled “EP 1” saw the light of day in 2006 and “EP 2” followed a year later. Then the band took nearly a decade of a break, only to return with a single “Ostatni Dzień Zimy” (“The Last Day of Winter”) in 2019, and then drop their debut album “Nieoczekiwanie” (“Unexpectedly”) in 2020. Now two years later, with a new line up and new album in tow, Skuund are ready to emerge from the shadows and straight into the sunshine.

Skuund’s newest musical offering to the world is an 11-track masterpiece in sound. “Social Animal” was released on the 14th of May and every self-proclaimed music obsessive should have it in their collection. One word of advice – this is not an album for everyone. This record expects a lot from the listener. You need to put your headphones on, turn the lights off, close your eyes and let the music take you to a world of absolute musical beauty. Each song demands attention, every chord is too important to miss. Every word is as vital as breathing.

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Picture by Skuund

It is also mind wrecking, gender-breaking rollercoaster that merges funk (“You Can’t Hide Forever”) with math rock (instrumental “Vanishing Butterflies”), art rock (“Thylacine” and “Spaces in Between”) and noise (“It Wasn’t What You Took”). Title track and leading single sound like a perfect mix of Joy Division, The Cure and Marillion. There are moments when vocalist, Martin Howard channels Fish and Paul Banks of Interpol, but with a British accent. My favourite track and the closing number “National Park” is a hauntingly beautiful concoction of Ride, early Sisters of Mercy and The Editors.

With members hailing from the UK, Finland (drummer Jaakko Hauru) and Poland (Łukasz Nawrot – guitars/synths and Artur Łuczak – bass/keyboards) and three different yet rich musical heritages between them, Skuund are incredibly hard to tame. Trying to fit them into a box would do them as much good as closing a wild animal in a zoo and putting it on display.

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Picture by Skuund

If you ever have a chance to see Skuund live in their natural habitat (main stage on an alternative music festival that is), grab a good place and enjoy the show. Bands like that are not formed every day and we should cherish the ones that do.

Skuund deserve every bit of praise they received so far. They are simply phenomenal.

“Social Animal” is out on Shore Dive Records. It was recorded at Sandy Lane Studios in Woking and mastered at KMJ45 Studios. The album was mixed and recorded by Łukasz Nawrot and mastered by David L.G. Webb aka Telemachus/Chemo.

Please follow the band on social media:
https://www.facebook.com/skuund
https://shorediverecords.bandcamp.com/album/social-animal (new album)
https://skuund.bandcamp.com (previously released EP’s and albums)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/02hKrFO7euQbBm8txrtyh8

Rita Dabrowicz

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