The Skints - FM (Cover Artwork)

The Skints

FM (2015)

Easy Star Records

FM is the third full-length from London reggae group The Skints. On a third album, the audience usually expects to see significant growth, and The Skints certainly deliver. While their last album, Part and Parcel, is wholly enjoyable, it does have some tracks that could be labelled as filler. They suit the album, but don’t necessarily hold up as well on their own. The same cannot be said about the songs on FM. From the London anthem “This Town” through to the dreamy album closer “Tomorrow”, this record does not let up. Hard-hitting reggae grooves and infectious hooks complement rapped verses as the lyrics cover political, personal, and philosophical topics, while always managing to strike a relatable chord.

One of the most entertaining aspects of this release is the use of pirate radio-inspired skits to break up the tracks. My personal favorite is “Dancehall Dilemmas with Dr. Ranking Pegasus”, in which one “Danny from Leyton” calls the doctor for a little advice. It’s a nice bit of comic relief that keeps the mood light, and also serves as a fitting intro for the reggae-noir track “Friends & Business”.

The standout track of FM is “Eyes In The Back of My Head”, which features grime artist Rival. Its timely message about urban violence pairs well with a driving electronic dub beat, and the raps are one of the most impressive showcases of the group’s vocal talent on the record.

If there’s any complaint to be made about this album, it might be that the songs can be a bit similar-sounding. The Skints appear to be slightly constrained by the limits of their genre at times. However with three vocalists, great production, and a slew of guest features, they’re able to keep things interesting from song to song.

FM is a dense album with some serious themes, especially those dealing with life in the inner city. But The Skints also make an effort to keep things fun, and that’s important too. The balance of these moods coupled with consistently great songs makes FM their best work to date.