After last month’s debut by Superorganism, we’ve got another debut from the Shacks that drinks from a similar melodic well.
“Haze” is the New York band’s sweet first LP on the Big Crown label, following a well-received 2016 EP. It is perfect for the unseasonal heatwave we’ve been enjoying in the UK during the first part of May. Well played and expertly produced by guitarist Max Shrager, there is a lot to enjoy here. Shannon Wise’s vocals are gossamer-like and breathy but don’t get overwhelmed in the musical arrangements. We are talking LA Wrecking Crew territory here. “Pet Sounds” has clearly been absorbed and it fits in alongside recent Rough Trade AOMs by Angel Olsen and Unloved in capturing that classic Sunset Strip/Capitol Building 60s vibe in songs such as “Sleeping”.
It also brings to mind Deptford’s glorious, and sadly missing in action, The Shortwave Set. Songs bounce along at a rate of knots and there is an evident skill in the songwriting. Shrager had worked as an intern at the Daptone label and clearly has absorbed how to make a record that has one foot in the past and one foot in the present. The song arrangements bring different bits of instrumentation to the fore. There are some lovely backing vocals which support Lewis’s breathless lead vocal perfectly.
So why does it sound like I’m a little reticent? I’m not entirely certain myself. I get frustrated by some of the more ramshackle Rough Trade AOMs such as Hinds debut LP. This clearly is a zillion miles away from that territory. In a recent piece in Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, Shrager commented on the opening track “Haze”:
It’s really an entry point, like an Alice in Wonderland kind of thing, If you’re trying to create a certain world for the listener, which is how we think of what we do—creating our own little universe with its own laws—it’s important to ease into it and take the listener from their own reality into the reality of the album.
Maybe that’s it – is it a little bit too perfect, a bit too stylised? It isn’t quite getting into my soul and involving me. That’s clearly my problem, not their’s. The more I listen to the LP though, the more that it seeps in, little by little. I think I need run with this one for a while to hear it properly and eventually, I can see it becoming a summer “go to”.
That’s it – I’ll give it a little more time and lot more sunshine hopefully.