Clichés can be useful tools, some of them anyway. For example, good things come to he who waits and quality over quantity are both very apt when talking about Shriekbacks’ album releases. And armed with such overused utterances we are ready to welcome their 12th studio album, Life in The Loading Bay.
Shriekbacks’ selling point has always been their penchant for alchemizing any and every musical style that takes their fancy, taking base music and turning it into pure gold and lyrically coming at you like the philosophers stoned. This album sees original singer-guitarist Carl Marsh back in Barry Andrews fluid musical gang, add to that Stuart Rowe mixing the whole affair and the results are exactly what you would expect…the unexpected. Well, fairly unexpected anyway. The familiar, big blocks of angular upbeats are still present on Make it Mauve, Now I Wanna Go Home and the warped Celtic disco that is Pointless Rivers, but it is the smoother washes that lay between them that really make this album special.
Opening salvo, Dreamlife of Dogs, illustrates this point nicely, it’s lilting, melancholy groove and offbeat psychology enticing you in before the album builds up to it’s more obvious musical left hooks. Like an opposing bookend it bows out with the chilled, robotic beats and world-weary reflections of Simpler Machines, aimed at all those people who long for the less technologically complex days of their youth.
It’s reassuring also to hear that in this lyrically vacuous age, there are still some people able to produce songs that force you to think. Beyond the often seemingly strange subject matter is a depth charge of warped wisdom that analogises with some of the big subjects of everyday life. It’s a difficult album to sum up in sound bites or snapshots due to the endless variety from one song to the next and as track-by-track reviews normally read like a high school English assignment, you are just going to have to buy the album. You will not regret it.