Skyclad - Oui Avant-Garde A Chance
Massacre Records
Folk Rock
12 songs (53:46)
Release year: 1996
Skyclad, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The second album to be released by Skyclad in 1996 is even more laid-back than the excellent Irrational Anthems. Perhaps there was some hint of the future fan attitude to this release in the name, a pun on ‘we haven’t got a chance’ – but although it is pretty much an EP with a few covers and reworked older tracks, this release is still just about worthy of a fan’s time. The songwriting might be slightly lacklustre compared to Skyclad’s classic anthems, but there are several examples of great Folk Rock; the album kicking off with If I Die Laughing It’ll Be An Act Of God, and it’s obvious that Martin Walkyier’s vocals are even less harsh than before, still rather gruff but practically clean, something which becomes more obvious as the album progresses. Lyrically dealing with Walkyier’s atheism in as witty a way as usual, If I Die Laughing... works great as an opening track, fiddle and acoustic guitars blending nicely with a jaunty rhythm. This more melodic side to the band runs through the album, from the gentle Great Blow For A Day Job to the almost minimalist likes of Constance Eternal, a wistfully melancholic love song, not to mention the strangely 80s pop vibe of Postcard From Planet Earth, driven by synths and vocals.

If you can get used to the idea of a more laid-back, almost poppy Skyclad, then there is plenty to enjoy here. The likes of Jumping My Shadow are simply beautiful songs, slow, gentle and full of emotion, yet if you’re looking for a Thrashy slice of Folk-hewn awesomeness like Spinning Jenny then you’d best look elsewhere. Not all the tracks here are great; Bombjour! is as dull musically as the lyrics are intense, dealing with French nuclear weapon tests. The acoustic reworking of History Lessens (from Irrational Anthems) is decent, but the original’s better, and the cover of Dexy’s Midnight RunnersCome On Eileen is fun but hardly something you couldn’t go without hearing. The other cover, New Model Army’s Master Race, takes an ever so slightly heavier tone, yet it verges on the forgettable compared to the earlier songs, and if a song isn’t mentioned here that’s because it simply isn’t worth the attention. As good as Skyclad are, the songs here are definitely not as good as those on other albums, and whilst they’re hardly bad, they lack that vital spark.

Ultimately Oui Avant-Garde A Chance is a bit of a B-sides collection when all is said and done, although if you want a collection of Skyclad tracks which more or less avoid heaviness completely then this has enough to recommend it. Fans should love it for what it is; Walkyier’s singing voice is excellent and his lyrics are as brilliant as ever, yet it’s hard to recommend to all due to the lacklustre second half and doesn’t rank highly amongst the Skyclad pantheon.

Killing Songs :
If I Die Laughing It’ll Be An Act Of God, Constance Eternal, Jumping My Shadow,
Goat quoted 58 / 100
Other albums by Skyclad that we have reviewed:
Skyclad - Vintage Whine reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Skyclad - The Answer Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Skyclad - Irrational Anthems reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Skyclad - The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Skyclad - In The... All Together reviewed by Elias and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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