I know – I did say that I wasn’t going to be able write many (if any) ‘reviews’ as such, on LOUD HORIZON any more. But I really must make an exception and give a brief mention of the new album from Brighton’s off-kilter artrockers, SHRAG.
‘Canines,’ is the third album from the band and those who have heard and loved the first two will know what to expect here. Guitarist / vocalist Bob Brown is quoted as saying he wanted to make an album that was ‘musically, a bit deranged.’ Isn’t that what SHRAG always do?
The dual boy-girl vocal attack is still as fresh and quirky as it was on their debut offering, with Helen and Stephanie’s delivery at times sounding like a primary-school choir!
But – all sweet and innocent? You’ve got to be kidding! From the swirling Hawkwind-esque intro to opening track ‘Tears Of A Landlord,’ to the Beatles-esque final bars of album closer, ‘Jane With Dumbbells,’ SHRAG give the listener ample doses of sexual innuendo, dark moods and menace. Of course, there’s plenty of bounce and frivolity as well – and some more laid back moments such as on the excellent ‘Chasing Consummations,’ which factors in some lovely, moody strings.
Then there is the pulsing drone and Strokes-like beat of ‘Tendons In The Night’ throughout which the short sharp vocal stanzas make me think (weirdly perhaps) of early Devo, with the keyboard break sounding like You Say Party, and Bob’s deep voice reminding me of Sons and Daughters! All within the space of four minutes! (In fact – I take all that back ….. check out ‘Fight’ by Sons and Daughters – it’s on their early ‘Love The Cup’ mini-album!)
You could also perhaps make a case for the following track ‘On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals’ taking on a New Order form, what with (what sounds like ) programmed beats and prominent bass-line. Next again, and ‘Devastating Bones’ takes another turn in direction, this one a resounding Glam stomper!
But what I love most about SHRAG is that while they may occasionally remind me of other bands, they sound simply like ….. SHRAG.
They can do no wrong! Is this any better than their previous releases? It’s hard to say, since they too were so strong. It’s hard to improve on perfection!
(Released through Fortuna Pop! + WIAIWYA on 2nd July 2012)