Over the last three years, Snapped Ankles have managed to generate a large amount of hype and earnt heaps of praise for their music and live shows. In the same period of time, they’ve also managed to shroud themselves in an increasing amount of mystery, choosing to eschew conventional press engagement in favour of trying to remain as anonymous as possible. Keeping with the theme of their forest-inspired debut, Come Play The Trees, the band chose to drape themselves and their instruments in leaves and twigs as part of their live shows. With their quick follow-up, Stunning Luxury, the antics seem to have been dialled up further and they’re all the better for it.
According to press releases, the band have ditched the life of the forest in favour of the big city and have assumed the roles of the very estate agents that drove them out of their woodland habitat, in what they claim is their attempt to infiltrate the capitalist lives of the enemy. From a musical perspective, there are also signs of significant development – this time round the rhythms and basslines are more propulsive by comparison to the tribal feel of the debut, and the songs are drenched in layers of woozy synth to great effect. At the same time as having a fearsome post-punk lilt, this new direction has also seen the band inadvertently write an album laced with dance-punk bangers, probably best suited for the club night at the end of the world.
Opener ‘Pestisound (Moving Out)’ picks up exactly where Come Play The Trees left off and then begins to showcase this new transition the band are making both in image and sonically. There’s heaps of energy to be found in the first half of the album, with tracks such as ‘Rechargeable’ and ‘Delivery Van’ providing the high points in how driving and urgent they both sound. Moving past the centre of the record is where further experimentation creeps in with ‘Three Steps To A Development’, and the almost ominous sounding ‘Dial The Rings On A Tree’. All in all, Stunning Luxury plays out as a much moodier counterpart to its predecessor, but the darker tones make the band all the more captivating.
Seemingly as much of a performance art project as they are a band, Snapped Ankles are possibly the closest thing to being this generation’s answer to the KLF – taking an anarchistic approach to the music industry with tongues firmly planted in cheeks every step of the way. Whether or not the band do take themselves completely seriously or whether their subversion is all part of the act is open for debate, but having quickly followed an instant gem an album with another proves that they hold every right to be treated as one of the country’s most exciting acts.
Reuben Cross hosts The Inessential Guide on COOL MOVES RADIO.