The mythology surrounding Shellac is a dense one. Most reviews spend time focusing on the cantankerous singer and guitar player Steve Albini for his numerous achievements and outspoken beliefs. He’s an “engineer,” a front man for Shellac (Big Black and Rapeman in the past) one time food blogger, and the owner of Chicago recording studio, Electrical Audio. Bob Weston (the bass player) is a man of just as many talents. He’s been an engineer on numerous projects from June of 44, to helping Albini engineer Nirvana’s last record. He even doubles in Mission of Burma as the “tape manipulator.”
All of this is beside the point. Dude Incredible is Shellac’s sixth full length record, and was only announced right before its initial release on September 16th. The press release stated about the record, “The band will continue to play shows or tour at the same sporadic and relaxed pace as always,” Even more mysterious, the venerable but defunct Touch and Go Records released the lean, nine song collection.
The sixth song “All the Surveyors,” brings these mysteries and knotty mythology together in one perfect reason for the record to exist. In a Threepenny Opera like vocal harmony, the band asks the question, “Who fears the King?” The answer is swift and direct, in a way that only guys with this much history could respond with, “Fuck the King” they speak / sing in unison. No one is in charge of the band or its legacy, this is their record and everything else is of little consequence. In an age when every record is heralded as the “next best thing” and comes with a roll out of endless promotional material, this lack of “context” is refreshing.
The music reflects this lean approach to putting out a record. Many of the songs are riff based, somewhat monotonous. The songs move, flex, and breathe with a slight groove underneath. “Mayor / Surveyor” sounds like an early Gang of Four song. It’s easy to bounce your head and follow the progression of the record. In every song you get that popping Albini drum sound, springy and metallic Weston bass, all complete with a thin layer of piercing guitar. There aren’t overdubs. This is a barebones record; a refreshing record topped with Albini’s mysterious everyman vocal screeds about fighting and cooking stoves. “Fuck The King” and fuck the bands history, mythology, etc., here’s a Shellac record.
Noise rock, math rock, post hardcore, dark, vocals