Album Review Reviews

On Repeat:  Skating – Ultra Blue (2016)

Wolcott, CT based Skating is the lo-fi bedroom pop outlet of principal songwriter Jake Shaker’s abstract but personal lo-fi introspections.

Written and recorded over the course of a year in that oft-nebulous time following college graduation, Skating’s debut album Ultra Blue plays like a mixtape of quarter-life uncertainty set to a variety of natural and digital instrumentation.

Melancholy but comforting in its sadness, the album is densely layered with warm tones that wrap a kaleidoscopic blanket around Shaker’s internal monologues and pensive imagery. Early highlight “Digital Dream” pairs thick, synthetic loops and a syncopated drum machine with immense isolation: “I saw you like a human shaped door / closing in front of me.” “Acid Sun” immediately follows, juxtaposing one of the album’s warmest melodies with some of its most forlorn statements: “in the acid sun / with your stomach curled into a question mark like / “where’s the chemicals? where’s the one you love?”.

While this dispirited romanticism remains a constant throughout the record, it does dabble in different styles and forms. “Daisies” is a one-line loop of vocal intonations that actually benefits from its sketch-like structure and simple refrain. “Earth bound” is a quick garage rock instrumental that brings some much needed physical energy to the album’s introverted ruminations. These short but sweet intermissions that give the record a sense of wholeness between its more elaborate songs.

Ending with “Panic Inducing Embarrassment”, it sounds like Shaker almost considers the content of Ultra Blue to have been too personal to put to music. But like the best mixtapes, they are made to be shared.

Listen to Ultra Blue by Skating below:

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