Shriekback: Some Kinds of Light UK CD 
- Agony Box
- Bollo Rex
- Putting All The Lights Out
- All About Nothing
- This Is The Science
- The Fire Has Brought Us Together
- The Elated World (Cornell Boxes)
Is it early December already? It seemed like only yesterday [cue harp run…] that Shriekback had run a successful Indiegogo campaign to fund group writing sessions and the recording of their latest album, “Some Kinds of Light.” While we were caught up in our own personal drama, The Shrieks have diligently done what they alone do best and have delivered their new album, as promised, “by Xmas.” My CD has not yet arrived from across the Big Drink, but I finally found the time to load the WAV files provided to all sponsor as of December 6th [official release day!] on my iPod the other night, so let’s dive into the Shriekback bucket and report our findings with a some of the usual considered musings and a [hopefully] commensurate uptick in gut-level reaction!
Mr. Andrews drew first blood with the potent “Agony Box.” It began small with a bass synth riff and Martyn Barker on the floor toms but it eventually built up to a suitably anguished roar against the impossibility of compartmentalizing all of that pain out there in the zeitgeist. The middle eight chorus of multiple Andrews intoning “agony is your friend” brought to mind the famous Sanskrit mantras from “Running On The Rocks.”
The point of crowdsourcing the writing of the new album was immediately apparent as the central role that drummer Barker obviously played in the compositions this time was certainly all about the groove that he was putting out for these songs to build upon. “Bollo Rex” was all about the jazzdrums that Andrews added organ drone and Carl Marsh added guitar roar to.
But the drums were central here; Andrews was his typical verbose self and included a lyric that kicked into doubletime on the middle eight with as many politically pithy observations as he could jam into the song as possible. Making it a real throwback to his delivery on “Win A Night Out With A Well-Known Paranoiac” B-side of 1980. It can’t be a coincidence that he was revisiting that material for reissue recently and now the technique popped up again after a 39 year tabling. The cold break for several seconds after Andrews intoned “there was a long pause…” for the third time in the middle eight was freaky powerful arrangement, before the grinding vibe again resumed. The coda spiraled into chaos with a complete psychedelic breakdown of the track while a narrator recited what seemed to be parts of a poem over it all.
Following this sound and fury, it was time for a change of pace, and Carl Marsh on vocals for “Putting All The Lights Out.” This was a low key throwback to an early 70s sound with meandering Hammond organ patches and reverberant Fender Rhodes piano from Andrews while Marsh opted for some deep twang. The catlike song was perfect for late night listening and the glorious Partridge Sisters on backing vocals added delightfully to the vibe.
Mr. Andrews was still investigating his clavinet for that mid-70s funk feel on the Marsh-led “Weatherman.” Then the eerie trills of his lead synth along with the deep bass synth gave this one a smoky power that the tribal drums of Barker exacerbated. At the song’s midpoint, Barker expanded the narrow channel of rhythm that he’d previously hewed close to and widened his approach with greater complexity and fills as Andrews’ keys carried the melody forward. There seemed to be no guitars at all in this one.
That couldn’t be said for the third turn of Marsh in the spotlight for the stripped down groovy protest rock of “All About Nothing” He took a great semi-acid rock solo on the middle eight to spar with the spacey bass synth and organ fills of Andrews, who seemed to be sticking to a deliberately limited palette of sound design this for this album. He might have gotten any eclecticism out of his system on his recent solo album; As ever, the drums of Mr. Barker add the pulsebeat that seemed to almost flashback to the Madchester era. Dig, if you will, the picture…below.
Next: …Big Science