There are very few labels that have as much consistency as Xtra Mile. It’s hardly a surprise though, considering the list of associated artists features Frank Turner, Reuben, Against Me! and The Xcerts to name but a few. It’s put of marker on Xtra Mile as one of the go-to sources for brilliant new music, and pretty much every time they’ve failed to disappoint. Still, it means that new releases have an incredibly high pedigree to live up to, especially with the benchmark seemingly being raised with every new release.
So enter Skinny Lister, the London folk-rock sextet whose sophomore full-length ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ is the latest release on the label’s docket. And surprise, surprise, it’s absolutely stellar, a ridiculously enjoyable, sometimes beautifully heartfelt album that factors in folk, punk and indie in the smoothest fashion possible. The onus weighs heavier on the folk than the punk overall, but it results in a sound almost like a modern day Pogues, still rowdy and practically begging to be screamed out after a pint or six, but wonderfully crisp and clear.
It’s a production style that really benefits the album as well – the likes of ‘Geordie Lad’ and ‘Injuries’ are bathed in upbeat folky pep, but there’s a lightness to them that only ups the already insanely high enjoyability even more. Conversely, it offers a greater fragility to the more downbeat tracks like ‘Devil In Me’ and especially the intimate folk of ‘Reunion’. What’s more, the transition between the two never jars; there’s an entirely smooth flow that runs through this entire album and helps it coast along so naturally.
In truth though, it’s every element of ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ coming together that makes it such a compelling listen. Sometimes riotous, sometimes heartbreaking but always affecting, this is the kind of excellent, organic music that Xtra Mile have made their mantra. Skinny Lister may have just earned themselves a place on the list of greats.
‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ by Skinny Lister is released on September 30th on Xtra Mile Recordings.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)