Skin Collision Past
I was excited about this album within moments of pushing play. Wild Moccasins could not be rebuffed by the aging speakers of my 1980s boombox. Their energy electrified the faux-fur seat covers of my red Volvo. I found myself sitting in the parking lot, unwilling to go into the grocery store until I had listened to all nine tracks. I resisted the urge to text my friends that I had found… something new! Something young! Something untouched by Brooklyn’s current brand of cool! Something imperfect yet full of promise… something worth keeping an eye on.
Skin Collision Past is the third output by a young band from Houston Texas: their first “full-length” album, though it runs only thirty minutes with no song outstaying its pop-song-welcome of four minutes. The songs are urban, confident, and joyful. It is delightfully not hook-oriented, and attempts to be much more mature than the age of any one of the band’s members. It is the best of 2010: full of retro nods, but incontrovertibly modern in song structure and rhythm.
This quintet must have a lot of fun together, and if they don’t, they sure do a good job of faking it. The two singers have voices to kill, especially Zahira Gutierrez, who sounds like a richer and more exact Jenny Lewis. Her buttery tones soar above the insistent energy of the band, never letting up for a moment. She is spot on. The best part is that they have avoided the feeling of her vocals being a decorative add-on to a male-driven sound. She is as much a part of the band as anyone, and is at the core of what makes their sound exciting.
The lyrics, all written by Cody Swann, are straight out of a late teen’s diary: full of anxiety, overly analytical social observations, and a sort of naïve paranoia. The text of the album is not what makes it special. Without the help of the CD insert, no one would be able to discern what words they’re singing, and I don’t think anyone would care. But if you do delve into Cody’s writing, you’ll find someone who is struggling hard with language to convey the vague social pressures they feel but cannot name. He writes in the song “Chapter Four” about being carried off by an imaginary sea, trying to finish writing his sentences despite the flood and sea demons: “Now I know/no one knows/what we’ve wrote”. Skin Collision Past is about trying to find a space for expression in the face of a world that seems inhospitable to being vulnerable. It is the voice of young creatives, just beginning to find their way. I for one am giving Wild Moccasins all my support as they keep on keepin’ on. I think great things are yet to come.