Skunk Anansie, Stoosh, 1996, One Little Indian Records
1. Yes It's Fucking Political 2. All I Want 3. She's My Heroine 4. Infidelity (Only You) 5. Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) 6. Twisted (Everyday Hurts) 7. We Love Your Apathy 8. Brazen (Weep) 9. Pickin' on Me 10. Milk Is My Sugar 11. Glorious Pop Song
Stoosh was the second album release from angry rockers Skunk Anansie. Their name comes from a character famous in West African folk tales, Anansi, the storytelling spider who is synonymous with wisdom and great speaking ability. (Did anyone else learn about him in primary school? I remember trying to draw him…) Influenced by punk, new wave, reggae, hip-hop and electronica. Lead singer Skin has described their sound as “clit-rock”.
While opener Yes It’s Fucking Political feels a bit like a shouty onslaught, All I Want has a stronger tune and a much more nuanced vocal. She’s My Heroine lulls you into a false sense of security with a gentle start and then becomes one of the band’s trademark tracks, with Skin switching effortlessly between softness and something just the right side of a scream. It’s easily the best of the early tracks. Infidelity (Only You) is a complete surprise as it’s a pure ballad with a string section. Next comes what is probably the band’s most famous song Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good), it’s one of the lighter tracks, although the lyrics, about a broken relationship that only one person is over are pretty sad and this gives the mid point of the album a very different sound. Things kick back into gear with Twisted (Everyday Hurts) where the rhythm section is at its strongest. We Love Your Apathy is a full return to the angry political protest sound that started the album off. Brazen (Weep) is another of the band’s well known tracks and another example of their skill at weaving dark lyrics with sweet melodies. Pickin’ on Me is completely stripped back to just guitar and vocals as Skin tells the story of someone who bullied her at school. Glorious Pop Song is another melody so light that it sounds just like its title. The final surprise on an interesting album.
I expected Stoosh to be mostly angry shouting and while it had its fair share of that, it also had plenty of light and shade and a lot of melancholy, introspective sort of songs on the album. The ballads were actually the stand out tracks for me and considering what was popular in the UK charts at the time, it’s not surprising that these were more successful than the outwardly aggressive songs.
Despite being a bit inconsistent as a whole, it’s a good listen and Skunk Anansie were definitely providing something different to the mainstream as they have continued to do throughout their career.