Friday, 14 September 2007



The second release from Shellac in many ways is their best, the one with the most motion and focus combining all their lofty abilities into two of the most devastating and inventive compositions in their cannon. This is a genuinely nasty sounding record but in that cool and rational way which doesn’t for a second cause you to question anything that is being delivered. This is one of the most earnest gestures in modern alternative rock, a truly inventive work of bile that produces guitar sounds and swings that cannot be found anywhere else in rock.

Shellac are cut. There is not one ounce of fat in anything they do and their movements feel cast out of granite with a kick and a punch that is just as solid.

With drums so clear that they sound like they’re in the room “Doris” kicks off the record with one of the most aggressive sounding tracks (still) in the Shellac arsenal. Dishing out repeated stabs of onslaught the seemingly tale of an awkward female is one that builds to an inevitable explosion and harsh act of defiance. It’s funny to think that when I used to hang out with wannabe football thugs they would refer to their significant others as their “Doris” I don’t quite think that this was the type of person they were referring to.

“Wingwalker” is an immense tune filled with dense guitars that spend the duration of the song sounding on the brink of devastation. To this day it remains perhaps the strongest song in their catalogue as it exists as a bitch with many faces and facets. The initial bark of Albini harkening back to a more playful time could have come straight out of Full Metal Jacket and as the bass of Weston drops in to give the track a horror movie air of tension things are explicitly headed in a dark direction.

At the 23 second mark Albini aurally begins abusing his guitar as shards of broken noise pierced the repetitive perfection of the Weston/Trainer engine room. Who could deny him the right to fly?

For a while back there this song was considered by some as a nasty jab towards Kurt Cobain post-In Utero. “I’m a plane” was supposedly a dig at “On A Plain” concealing a barely veiled attack at rock star mentality and the glue sniffers now travelling in business class with the suits. This ain’t some kind of metaphor, goddamn this is real. In some quarters the creation of this song appeared to be considered as Albini in one foul seemingly simple swoop creating the song, sound and energy that Cobain so craved from his third studio album. As to how much weight there is in this theory is very contentious but if that was the mission it was certainly accomplished.

Five minutes later “Wingwalker” crashes to an incendiary conclusion as battered and bruised the work of music is now a much better place. As he does one last scrap of his pick along the top string somewhere somebody just lot their mind.

Without doubt one of the most satisfying seven inches of an era.

Thesaurus moment: fear.

Shellac interview
Shellac live
Touch And Go

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