When one looks at Dave Allen's long résumé, it isn't hard to understand why Cleopatra Records hired the veteran producer/engineer to help produce this self-titled debut album by the U.K.-based alternative pop
ock, new wave, and goth rock group New Skin. Back in the '80s, Allen worked with Depeche Mode, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy, the Human League, and many other artists who were big in that era -- an era that has clearly had a huge impact on New Skin, whose sound owes a lot to Siouxsie and the Banshees and Berlin as well as Sisters of Mercy. Lead singer Jen Jansson (who is originally from Sweden) is very much a student of Siouxsie Sioux and Berlin's Terri Nunn, but unlike the recordings that Berlin made before 1986's Count Three and Pray, this 2005 recording is not techno-pop. New Skin favor a lot of keyboards and programming, but their industrialized sound also makes extensive use of the electric guitar; Allen sees to it that New Skin, although technology-minded, rocks. He also makes sure that New Skin deliver an album that is enjoyably consistent even though it isn't terribly original or distinctive. Melodic tracks like "Red Roses" and "Frances Says" are not groundbreaking -- in fact, New Skin's debut often sounds like it could have been recorded 15 or 20 years earlier -- but never let it be said that Jansson is not an expressive, colorful vocalist or that New Skin's material is not infectious. The word "infectious" describes many of the new wave recordings that Allen produced and/or engineered in the '80s, and many years later, he comes through for New Skin on this derivative but solid debut.