Stagger likes Shrag. Their unique worldview crunches out of angular guitars, shouty vocals and a lo-fi retro bounce. They always have something to say and every so often they produce a little masterpiece like “Talk to the Left”:
However, so far their albums haven’t always lived up to the promise – they can be a bit patchy and sometimes feel relentlessly misanthropic.
However, their third album is a gem. It sounds great, it’s fun to listen to and sounds like it was fun to make. The key Shrag elements are all there: the bounce, the boy girl shouty vocals, insistent guitars, the edgy humour and cynicism. But there is more more more. Shrag’s unusual songwriting style has moved on to the next stage – it’s their most accessible album, packed with memorable tunes, soaring instrumentals and joyous harmonies. OK, I’m exaggerating, but not much. “On the Spines of Old Cathedrals” could almost be described as lush, and parts of “Show Us Your Canines” are verging on euphoric. The overall effect is to give a sense of empathy and humanity to the darker themes that infuse Shrag’s songs. On ‘Canines’, they still have their bite, but this is collection of songs is a pedigree beast and knows exactly what it wants and how to get it.
It’s also a very physical album, with muscles, masochism, movement and sex appearing and dancing through the album like a gymnast in a leotard. In this olympic year, have Shrag produced a medal winning performance?