The band name says it all, really. This ‘one-man full band’, headed up by ex-Candy Hearts bassist Christian Stefos Migliorese, don’t aim to misbehave, but to get it all out in the open. Dead Skin is a beautiful pop record, filled with big hooks and tender melodies. It’s a joy to listen to, not only because it sounds great, but because its songs are honest conversations that we’ve all had at some point in our lives, either with ourselves or with someone else. Never since Dashboard Confessional has it been so cool to lay all your feels down on the line.
Dead Skin starts off strong with ‘Dumb or 21’. Bouncy guitar riffs evoke memories of 90s pop-punk in this coming-of-age tale, and it’s so upbeat and stupidly catchy and everything that you need to kick off the better weather. The EP’s also got the first two singles on it, and ‘Purple Heart’ is still as wonderful as ever. A simple acoustic opening builds up into a perfect chorus, little 80s fills and background harmonies that are simply irresistible. If there’s a song that you’re going to remember from this record, it’s ‘Purple Heart’. It’s not to say that ‘I-95 (In Another Life)’ doesn’t carry the same weight that it did pre-EP release because it totally does, and it’s lovely and bittersweet, jangly and totally emo. There’s some NFG-style stompers in tracks like ‘Maybe’, and quiet, contemplative jams like ‘Glassy Eyed’. And unlike a lot of records in this vein, it’s surprisingly mature – ‘When Things Were Good’ might sound like it belongs on the soundtrack of a teen rom-com, but it’s a heartbreaking acoustic ode to the past that refrains from demonising it. It’s also blissfully simple – too many records make grand overtures, over-romanticising former relationships, but in ‘When Things Were Good’, it’s the little things that sting, like not being able to smoke a bowl and go back to bed with that someone special. And with Migliorese’s soft and measured vocals, the whole record strikes the perfect tone – there’s no Chris Carrabba style whining here.
It’s hard to articulate how great this record is. Maybe that’s because Migliorese has already said it for me. Also, my mum thought it sounded like New Found Glory. The lady likes a bit of New Found Glory, so that’s always a bonus.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!