New England-bred, Manhattan-based quartet Skaters’ first full-length has a lot in common with another famous New York City debut: The Strokes’ Is This It?, their universally-acclaimed 2001 update of late-’70s art-punk. Where Julian Casablancas and company sometimes seem to bask in the glory of having too much time and money and too little to do — for satirical effect or not — Skaters are more openly critical of the ennui, scolding “a generation of jerks, directionless on our feet.”
While there’s a strong current of American punk influence on Manhattan, Skaters also expand their palate to include sounds from New Wave and early hip-hop, touches of electronic experimentation that bring Animal Collective to mind, an occasional blast of hardcore punk, and a subtle island vibe reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls. It takes a few tracks for the album’s energy to ramp up, but by the time you reach “To Be Young,” the pop craftsmanship and solid performance have drawn you in. That’s where the most interesting and intelligent songwriting takes over, and the top-shelf production becomes the cherry on top instead of the main reason to stick around.