Editors' pick

Buffalo Tom

Rock
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Editorial Review

BUFFALO TOM
Album review: "Skins"

Buffalo Tom’s latest album, “Skins,” represents where the Boston trio feels most comfortable after nearly 25 years: in its own skin. These are guys in their 40s with careers and families, after all, who sing more for the straight-cut jean wearer than for the skinny-jean types.

But while the band’s preference in denim may have evolved, the music that made it a beloved alt-rock outfit in the ’90s endures: The infusion of pop hooks into post-grunge rock songs is alive and well on “Guilty Girls” and “Down,” not to mention singer Bill Janovitz’s full-throated vocals.

Signs of maturation appear as the lyrics begin to address midlife concerns. On “The Kids Just Sleep,” bassist Chris Colbourn sings about fatherhood: “As the sun goes down, I put my kids to sleep / I wonder if they hear their father start to cry.” And Janovitz’s ballad with Tanya Donelly, “Don’t Forget Me,” laments the passage of time: “Don’t forget me are the words she’d say / When we were young and on the beach, and all drenched in spray.”

The most raw, heartfelt track is “The Big Light,” about Janovitz’s uncle who was killed in 2009: “Blue dye a crime scene, blood on the gate’s lock / Get over your grief, get over the shock.”

“Skins” is proof that grown-up rock-and-roll doesn’t have to be cliched; it can be introspective, especially when written by intelligent people.

--Benjamin Opipari, April 29, 2011