“Skallander” by Skallander
A sun-bleached collection of twisted pop songs from guitarist Matthew Mitchell and Bevan Smith (aka Signer).
Skallander is probably a name you haven’t heard before, and with good reason. Although the duo of Bevan Smith (better known as Signer) and Matthew Mitchell have had two albums out already, scant few copies made it out of their home country of New Zealand (where they have received almost universal praise) but now the oddly monikered pair are ready to have their sound lavished upon the world at large. Mitchell and Smith have been playing together since their teens in various bands, and Mitchell’s well-trained finger-picking could be heard on Signer’s recent tours so this third self-titled album feels like the two musicians have an almost spiritual link.
Taking cues from the golden age of rock music, when songwriting was just as important as musicianship – ‘Skallander’ is an album which should appeal to those of us desperate to hear great, memorable songs. Utilising Mitchell’s virtuoso instrumental skills and haunting vocals and pitting them against Smith’s veteran mixing desk trickery, the result is an album which sounds both incredibly new and yet retains the classic structure of your favourite 70s LPs. With nods to early Pink Floyd, Neil Young and more recently Jose Gonzales and Kings of Convenience this is a deep and beautiful record which revels in the enjoyment of music itself. We were always sure that there were people out there who were ready to sidestep the elitism and pretense of the modern underground music scene, and with Skallander we’ve found exactly that. Like an invitingly mysterious book, this album will have you trapped in its hazy beauty for many months to come; we can’t imagine a better forest to be lost in…