Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury
Snapped Ankles build upon their debut with Stunning Luxury, a streamlined yet incisive take on everyday politics
Snapped Ankles' second record comes bearing many of the hallmarks of a band attempting to build upon an underground success. The rhythms are less wonky and the drums sound less like they were played on the contents of various skips. However, there is no sense of compromise on Stunning Luxury. If anything they've heightened their idiosyncrasies, particularly their politicised anger with lyrics addressing unaffordable rents, environmental ambivalence and gentrification.
This may set up the album as the sort of righteous but musically tedious record that is showered with acclaim on first release and then never listened to again. However, the band's secret weapon is frontman Paddy Austin’s vocals, which jump between twitchy sprechgesang and cartoonish squawk, turning potential po-faced political statements into effervescent chants. This allows him to present the insidious values of consumer capitalism with the enthusiasm of an unhinged CBBC presenter, without being either completely ironically detached or earnest to the point of humourlessness.
Those familiar with the band's debut Come Play the Trees will be aware of the form Snapped Ankles' songs take – repetitive synth lines and motorik rhythms being key, but the sonics of the record are a leap towards a more synthetic sound. This means that while Can remain a touchstone for their sound, particularly on opener Pestisound (Moving Out)'s rattling percussion and eerie chords, the majority of the album features a more danceable energy. Letter From Hampi Mountain and Rechargeable meld fidgety rhythms with abrasive synths that yelp like malfunctioning fruit machines into out-and-out bangers, while lead single Drink and Glide builds into an electronic, psychedelic, fuzzed-out cacophony.
Barring the closer Dream and Formaldehyde, which evokes 70s sci-fi soundtracks to highlight the dystopian paranoia that sits beneath the album's surface, Stunning Luxury gloriously marries a fury with an energy that can only feel hopeful. With Stunning Luxury, Snapped Ankles have achieved that rarest feat, a stridently political album that loses neither its sense of humour nor its capacity for bangers.
Listen to: Letter From Hampi Mountain, Drink and Glide, Dial the Rings On a Tree