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RR: Skin Town's unexpected return with their new album 'Country' finds the duo upping the already high bar set on their striking dark pop gem debut 'The Room' with a dauntless artistic statement that trades clever posturing for vulnerability. Yielding their prowess with more restraint, Skin Town's 'Country' hits harder and cuts deeper - doubling down on their narcotic cocktail of strong R&B hooks, spacious bewitching productions, and marked sense of melody that puts vocalist Grace Hall and multi-instrumentalist Nick Turco in a class of their own. Many saw that potential on their debut with support from Dazed, Interview, The FADER, KCRW, as well as artists like Tinashe shouting out Skin Town. Lamenting on the duo's unmistakable chemistry, Pitchfork says, "Turco’s synthscapes are huge and scene-stealing, while Hall’s husky voice strikes a glorious medium between Abel Tesfaye and Sade." Their latest is even more potent, a particular strain of sad dance music that feels timeless and raw. 'Country' refines Skin Town's minimal framework of tethering hip-hop/R&B rhythms to Hall's smoky, precise phrasing exploring richer atmospheres and darker concerns. Written and recorded over 3 years, the album touches upon depression, loss, hedonism, poverty, rebellion, sex work, empowerment, and love's contradictions. The album's completion was sidetracked many times with Hall suffering a string of life-threatening mysterious immune system ailments, as a result there is a lot of pain and joy in this record, made with literal blood and tears. The opener "Bad" signals at this departure from their upbeat predecessor stripping away the beats, relying on the interplay between Turco's ringing chords, the enveloping synthwork and Hall's melancholic, rhythmic intonations. "Mute" brings back the drums, couched in a slinking hip-hop beat and a creeping synth lead. Throughout the record, Turco's productions glean from an eclectic, disparate mix: melodic Amiga tracker music, Metro Boomin', New Age, The-Dream while Hall seems ever more comfortable exploring syncopation and half-rap/half-sung excursions. This is inventive, uncanny pop music where Enya, Offset, Zola Jesus, and Future inhabit the same space.
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