Stone Island doesn’t make music. But if they did, it would probably sound like the 2Lager EP.
The EP begins by explaining its premise – “It’s a 2Lager sound” – mumbles Zak Skinner, instructing the audience to imagine being in the bar with a mate and two pints of lager – a relatable concept but one that’s been done to death. The 00’s indie scene was littered with bands singing songs about heading out, necking a few jars, and trying it on with well, anyone.
Lads, lads and indeed…lads.
However for all the posturing and bravado, this particular piece of “lad pop” lacks the wittiness of Mike Skinner (no relation, just an obvious inspiration) or the classic indie singalong vibe (the staple diet of the football lad) and instead feels more like the musical equivalent of an argument outside a nightclub, you know what I mean mate? (shrugs shoulders in cockney).
Having said that, the music itself is rather engaging. “Soul Boy” brings echoes of the 90s dance scene, opening with synth stabs and breakbeats before building to a climactic ending. This is a sure fire way to get into the hearts and minds of all those old 90s ravers, still dreaming of a chance to be 21 again as they stumble from pub to pub. Still, despite the presence of several classic dance music tropes, the EP manages to deliver a certain freshness, whilst staying true to that all-important sense of nostalgia.
Given the classic dance roots, the tracks sound like they’re begging for soaring soulful vocals but instead they get the wooden spoon of Zak Skinner drawling over them, sounding like every guy you’ve ever wanted to avoid at the late-night kebab house.
It’s little surprise that this is the same man who took to Twitter at the back end of last year to slate any artist who dared to associate with Louis Tomlinson, of 1D fame. Labeling anyone who did so as “fucking laughable” and “lame”, Skinner showed the kind of toxic gatekeeping that has blighted the UK music scene for many a year, the energy that’s smeared across every track on this EP. Skinner does try a different approach on “Heaven In My Helltrap” and “Ringt0ne Prophet”, with half-sung/half-spoken lyrics; something that should be refreshing but ultimately comes across more conceited than considered, thanks to such poetic gems as “sit the fuck down before I knock you down”.
All in all the 2Lager EP is a passable listen that doesn’t overly offend the ears. It’s a good one to put on in the background when you’re emptying the dishwasher but probably not a great deal more.
The Skinner Brothers are a dilemma; the music is undoubtedly solid but the general attitude is that of someone who thinks he is better than everybody else…because he says so.
Fortunately for the wider music scene, that attitude seems to be on its way out. Someone might want to tell Zak Skinner.