It's best to cut to the chase here: no, Skunk Anansie haven't botched up their reunion album. Wonderlustre is not quite the slab of bare feminine emotion that the band's classic records were -- it's fun to try to imagine if this record alone would have sufficed to make them the stars they were in the '90s, but probably not. Yet the songs would fit a set list that features "Hedonism" and "Weak," and the record itself is a worthy addition to their catalog -- they sure didn't return because they feel lost and forgotten, or have bills to pay; they did it because they have something to say. The music packs plenty of catchy semi-metallic riffs, while Skin's voice still reverberates with tension while going from quiet vocalizations to commanding shouts -- though now she often sounds composed, not hysterical, in her anger. Most songs share the post-grunge and alterna-rock ethos, and would fit quite well on the radio, but most bands polluting the same airwaves would be left red-faced by Skin's fierceness and power -- and the group is still catchy as hell at that. They are similar to Therapy? in that regard -- the one other band that plays simply, but avoids conformism, delivering a unique, handmade take on a hackneyed style. Wonderlustre sounds streamlined -- in the past, Skunk Anansie were keen to shift from angsty grandeur to heart-wrenching intimacy, but here, they never go overboard emotionally, and most songs only differ in hooks, not vibe or dynamics. But this only makes the record more cohesive and mature, which is precisely what they should be like on an album made after a decade-plus hiatus.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko
feat: Oliver Kraus