Records - Shellac (4 stars)

SHELLAC

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Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch ‘N’ Go)

ROCK

Shellac have always played by their own rules. Whether it is their obsessions with pure analogue high fidelity and high quality packaging - this album (that’s vinyl Antique Roadshow fans) is the finest piece of work you’ll see all year, no competition - or dealing without as many of the machinations of the music industry as possible, they are to be admired.

Steve Albini breeds feverish devotion in young and old men everywhere and this album almost explains why. There is a crisp, spacious sound that does the whole power trio thing in the broadest sense, albeit with an unforgiving sense of humour and a brutally fine understanding of dynamics. But most of all it all feels very human, very real.

This, their first album in seven years, reminds us they can be playful to the point of wilful. The album centrepiece, the sprawling suite ‘Genuine Lullabelle’, illustrates the eccentric, beautiful and testing nature of the band in what can only loosely be defined a song. Initially the record feels curt, almost impolite in its conciseness and as ever, Shellac leave you wanting more. Live, they are untouchable, but on record they’re still flawed. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

(Mark Robertson)

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