REVIEW: Skip The Foreplay – Nightlife

skiptheforeplay2012

Artist: Skip the Foreplay
Album: Nightlife
Genre: Metalcore/dubstep
Label: Epitaph

Well. Dubstep certainly has a lot to answer for. The much-vaunted (and derided) genre seems to be taking on emo-like levels of ubiquity, creeping its way even in minor form into so many new releases that it’s mind-boggling. While it’s obvious that there’s a huge market out there for its brainless proselytising, I’m not entirely sure that its use in various albums – particularly by bands that would heretofore never have used even basic sampling – isn’t just some kind of opportunistic marketing stunt, designed to harness the latest trend for maximum gain. Fair enough, to a certain extent – this is still an industry, and people will make money out of anything. But when something as ridiculously gratuitous as Skip the Foreplay’s Nightlife comes along, one must question whether bands want to be musicians or actual circus performers.

This might be unduly harsh on the Canadian band, and I don’t mean to tar them with the above associations entirely. There is a certain level of boldness involved in making something this bizarre, and that in and of itself is commendable. However, for all that they may have good intentions, that can’t disguise the fact that their execution here is sloppy and amateurish. They don’t seem to have figured out how best to mix their two musical pursuits, instead throwing in random samples here and high-powered solos there to create mash-ups of songs, if not quite organic tracks themselves. The lyrics are foul, and the addition of mix ‘n’ match, distorted vocal soundbites and use of track names like the stupidly irresponsible (and offensive) “Date Rape Predator” is pathetic.

In any case, giving the band the benefit of the doubt, I can say that most of the musical ideas here are good, just poorly put together. “DJ” has good instruments and sizzling solo excess heretofore more associated with Avenged Sevenfold. “DTK” is abrasive in tone and the singing is incandescent, though this becomes wearying when mixed with the needless vocal vignettes. These tend to distract rather than enhance and weigh the song down. It’s disappointing, as the final minute or so of resurgent, killer guitars would be marvellous were it not so hindered elsewhere. “Hawaiian Killer” has a destructive potency that’s undermined by the synth parts. The latter break up the mire of guitars (and considering how densely metalcore they’re intent on being, it’s some mire) but also leave the song sounding cartoonish. There’s no balance between the electronics and the heavier stuff, leaving much of it sounding like a dissonant mess. By contrast then, “Dom Perignon” is bloated and turgid, but actually rescues itself with cleaner vocals and rhythmic club infusions. As is further evident in the leering club beats of “Destination Nowhere,” the band seem to fare better in devising the dance parts as, for all the velocity and intensity of their guitars, they certainly can’t capture much by way of depth or meaning with them. Then again, expecting depth or meaning from an album that includes titles like “Dinner With Snooki” might be my fault.

There is something of a resurgence in the album’s second half, as the band do seem to find a more complementary role for the electronic aspects. “This City (We’re Taking Over)” finds a way to integrate them decoratively into the song, rather than tossing a few random samples over the angry shouting. The incessant vocal crescendos are tiring but the clean vocals add some liveliness and attitude, and the band could benefit from using them more often. “Hangover” makes dextrous use of its effects to create an ominous, unsettling air. The song has, thus, an atmospheric presence that sets it apart, using a looming piano interlude with distant vocals to convey some sense of pained emotion. The sombre, escalating riff that crashes back into life thereafter is also noteworthy. “Mash It Up” makes skilled use of an organ, as if reflecting its penultimate position on the album. The rhythmic notes that kick in alongside it are intensely catchy and the vocals also show more promise than usual. “Champagne Showers” is a largely unnecessary LMFAO cover, though it does conclude the album on as vapid and deranged a note as it began. There’s always something ludicrous about listening to someone try to make harsh vocals out of silly lyrics, but this is a market in and of itself in the alternative scene of today.

Skip the Foreplay has, presumably, a legion of fans who adore the sheer unapologetic inanity of all this, and they will lap this up without a second thought. To the rest of us, this is a little too much like professed idiocy and aimlessness to be anything other than alienating. Judge as you will.

SCORE: 5/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Nice review, James. After you reading your description of this band, you couldn’t pay me enough to listen to this record haha