“I command you to be my master and I will not take no for an answer”, ends the introductory paranoiac’s jerk that is The Answers, the opening track on 7shades’ brand spanking new album of dark pop-tinged psychedelic hot egg juice, that emanates from the cracked shell sitting precariously atop your sensorily heightened and now sticky pate, the gloop slivering down through your hair, bubbling into your ears, leaving your synapses cross-wired and sparking joyfully.
Moving on from the almost-homage but nonetheless enticing draw of the Cardiacs’ suffused Bursting, Neil Spragg and his loony mates have created their own world, mired in this Monumental Midden, a place where the net is cast wider than before, both lyrically and musically.
Themes coalesce into a glorious glutinous mass where humanity’s corruption and greed seem to be sending it blindly hurtling towards a fast approaching precipice. But who cares when you can dance to it, and even celebrate a degree of bodily uncertainty in Eye For An Eye…
So you hobble along past the blooming red rose
Maybe some day you’ll work out where everything goes.”
The tune displays a fetching ascending crescendo, as does the following Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except An Exhibitionist), a lesson well learned from the never far away influence of Tim Smith’s far-reaching genius. The ascent bursts into a joyous romp on the spiffingly good instrumental The Dialogue, like the much anticipated end of the longest sentence in a Jack Kerouac novel, justifying all that went before. The air up here is rarefied.
The band do not waste time while they are up here, doing The Pointy Elbow to The Elevator without so much as a by your leave. This may be a midden, but there are diamonds in the murk. This song will leave you breathless but panting for more. Several odd time signatures clash with a metronomic beat and the all-encompassing sparky pop sensibility that makes The Elevator a bit of a lift, and something of an album highlight.
The fun element is neatly balanced by the serious side of the band, with takedowns of social meeja’s “tiresome tittle tattle and endless pissy wit”, and lyrics addressing the serious concerns of disappearing privacy and identity in the corrupt modern world, lyrics that sometimes get overlooked in the headlong rush of the busy, always interesting instrumentation. Fop Killer is an art rock extravagance that will leave your ears ringing and your head spinning, leading into the necessarily calmer climes of the still unsettling Out Of The Woodwork, and onwards into the final six minutes of glorious ideas-in-collision that is Camouflage, where synthetic orchestras do battle with guitars and huge beats on the plains of Kashmir.
Yep, The Monumental Midden is a bit of a triumph, buy it, now!
01. The Answers (3:14)
02. Hot Egg Juice (in a fiery skillet) (4:29)
03. Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form (4:12)
04. Eye For An Eye (4:12)
05. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except An Exhibitionist) (7:55)
06. The Dialogue (5:26)
07. The Elevator (6:27)
08. Kidneys (5:45)
09. Deaf Ears (4:03)
10. Fop Killer (5:01)
11. Out Of The Woodwork (2:59)
12. Camouflage (6:13)
Total Time – 59:57
Neil Spragg – Vocals & Technology Wrangler
Andy Read – Electric & Classical Guitar
Lance Ruffoon – Bass
The Libbertine – Vocals
Joshua Ryan – Electric Guitar
Record Label: Snafu Recordings
Date of Release: 27th November 2017