Skavesa - 10 Years of Love and Hate (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


10 Years of Love and Hate (2009)


Adequate but average ska is one of the most difficult segments of music to assess and write about, I've found. By its shear makeup, a run-of-the-mill ska record will almost always be qualitatively better than its punk rock counterpart, but the leisurely pace and homogeneous structures of the former can make it just as shrug-worthy.

Italy's Skavesa` released their first album 10 years ago (hence title) and have moved from a ska-core approach to a more traditional two-tone sound since their inception. Hauling in big-name ska-sicians Vic Ruggiero of the Slackers and King Django of Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars and Murphy's Law among others to produce the album, Skavesa`'s 10 Years of Love and Hate is observably fueled towards the likeness of its engineers. Even with a smooth rocksteady sound and crystal-clean production, though, it lacks the x-factor that makes good ska great. The ESL lyrics unsurprisingly cannot capture what streetwise poets like Ruggiero add to their music, and the cocky charisma of Django is practically unmatchable.

The lead track "Caresses" is probably the strongest of the CD, a sunny reggae offering warmed by consecutive organ and sax mini-solos and some breezy guitar work to finish the track strong. The next couple songs kind of blend together, though "Lovely Girl" has a bit more lively rhythm but falls victim to female chipmunk vocals that make for a less enjoyable listen. "My Angel" is spit-shined with polished brass, but the lyrics leave no uncertainty of the language divide: "Distant day / I had you come closer / And you layed down on my laps / I remembered it like yesterday / Your eyes sparkied of hapiness" [sic]. Still, vocalist Ferrari Fabrizio's relaxing croon low-lights such grievances and finds the band settling into their groove midway through. But just before peaking, Skavesa busts out the jarringly hyper title track, a nimble-footed blue-beat tune of jousting organ and guitar unified by a solid horn line.

On 10 Years of Love and Hate, Skavesa` is playing the same ska/reggae/rocksteady sound of a zillion other acts capturing the retro flair of the genre's pioneers. It's not groundbreaking and it's not trying to be, but more importantly, it's executed fairly well.