One of the most cutting accusations leveled at the third wave by its Two Tone-aged detractors was the lack of political awareness to be heard within the scene. In which case Skapone's debut album was a Bold New Flavor indeed. The set is stuffed with biting social commentary, encompassing a wide range of issues from crime to AIDS, the destruction of Sarajevo to the dubious benefits of the industrial revolution. "Armed and Dangerous" is a particular standout, a vivid vignette centering around the making of a vigilante, with its potent toasted lyrics set over a simmering roots reggae backing that envelops the menace of the streets. Sparkling ska supports the militias on "Guns and Steeples," while the carnage of drive-by shootings are accompanied with a wilding 2 Tone/hardcore rampage. If this is the modern world, no wonder the older generation recalls the "Cold War" days with such affection, in gorgeous rocksteady style. This generation, however, is barraged with violence, imbibing "8 Minutes" of slaughter in the papers over breakfast, then coming home in the evening to view a torrent of tragedy on CNN. With scenes like those seeping into one's subconscious, who can blame the band for wanting to escape into the fantasy world of "Samantha Clench - Private Eye," a be-bop delight, or to give a bright-eyed big up to a good "Breakfast," food for the soul. The Chicago group pulls it all off with aplomb, musically comfortable in every subgenre, and as vocally adept in harmony as with toasting. Unusually for third wavers, Skapone don't wear their influences on their sleeves, but tuck them into their pockets instead, as they pay tribute to the past in a rollicking style that's very much their own.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene