Album Review: Matt Skiba and the Sekrets, ‘Kuts’
If you're any bit of an Alkaline Trio fan as we are, you have undoubtedly followed Matt Skiba through all of his endeavors, from the keyboard-infused Heavens to hard punk duo the Hell to his solo demos, and now his official solo outlet, Matt Skiba and the Sekrets. Skiba and his band released their debut Babylon back in 2012 and are now back with the powerful follow-up, Kuts, due out June 12 via Superball Music.
Kuts is a sparkling conglomerate of all of Skiba's career styles. Although slightly slower and less punchy than the project's debut album, it takes beauty in its subdued reflection of failed romance, a somewhat dark topic that Skiba's been hitting on in most of his lyrics since the late '90s. AFI's Hunter Burgan, who plays bass for the band, also takes a back seat to some heavier synth influence, depending on the song, a technique that does seem to fit well within Skiba's overall vision for the disc.
The intro track, "Lonely and Kold," is about as punchy and electric as it gets on the record, with similarities to Alkaline Trio's reimagined electric acoustic album, Damnesia. The guitar solo during the verse has a very '80s-esque vibe to it with a valiant chorus that charges forward, forming a grand entrance to a well-written pop rock masterpiece.
The second, steady, upbeat track, "She Wolf," is a twisting punk rock tune, and probably the song that resembles Alkaline Trio the most. All we would need is some Dan Andriano vocals in there and it could definitely be a song that may have appeared on the trio's last album, My Shame Is True.
Lead single "Krazy" -- with a K, as most of Skiba's C's are replaced with on the album -- is a joyous jam. It's as i as you can get, with enormous lyrics, a powerful chorus, and as infectious of a hook as he could possibly muster. It was a great choice for a way to introduce an album that seems to find ways to rejoice in the blistering pain of love.
"She Said" has some obvious '70s/'80s punk rock influence, and is flooded with cursing and disses, solidifying its message of being fed up, with a chorus that repeats "You don't know when to shut your mouth and you don't know when to quit." The exceptional guitar solo almost comes out of nowhere, kind of like Trio's Ramones-esque track, "She Lied To The FBI."
"Krashing" comes on the heels of "Way Bakk When" with a synth-inspired intro and an equally passionate chorus, and the following track, "Hemophiliak," could almost be confused as an indie rock song at first, but then explodes into one of the best choruses on the record. It's a testament to the artist's diversity, spanning multiple genres; however, if you're strictly a fan of Alkaline Trio's early work like Goddamnit, you're in for a wild ride. It's light years from that original raw, punk sound.
"Never Believe" and "Vienna" both have sad, reflective tones, the first of which seems to draw heavily from Robert Smith of the Cure, one of Skiba's known idols. "Vienna" sees Skiba unplugging to play this one raw, with a piano accompaniment. It's the type of acoustic track that would appear dead center of an Alkaline Trio record, but here, it's a great way to close out the truly diverse disc.
If you're a fan of Skiba's electric ferocity, prepare for something completely different, but if you're someone like me who appreciates his work at the artistic level, Kuts is the pleasant result of musical progress and maturity. If you enjoyed Babylon, which was an excellent primer, then you will certainly enjoy this effort. Skiba's many years of diverse projects and influences are absolutely paying off.