The thing you’ve got to remember about Shack is they’ve been doing this for years. Years. So to expect them to change at this late stage is probably slightly foolish. Always critically feted, always commercially ignored, they’ve supported the best and the brightest, and somehow never, ever made the step up.
But that seems good enough for a Mr. N. Gallagher, who after an age of saying how great they are, has put his money where his mouth is and signed them to his label. So what have they repaid him with?
Well, happily for a man who doesn’t seem to like surprises (What? Have you heard the last three Oasis albums?), it’s a Shack album. Not a great Shack album, not a terrible Shack album, just a Shack album. And if you like the other Shack albums, then you’ll probably get quite a lot out of it: it’s wistful, melancholy and if it was any more Scouse then Boris Johnson would probably accuse it of wallowing in a culture of grief.
If you don’t like Shack albums, then you’ll find nothing to change your mind here. Words like mawkish, sentimental, overwhelmingly dull, will spring to your lips, and the assertion that Shack are nothing more than sixties revivalists without an original tune in their head will quickly be made.
If you sit somewhere in between, you’ll simply note it isn’t as good as HMS Fable. The songwriting isn’t as sharp, the melodies not quite as polished. So while Cup Of Tea shares some sort of symbiotic summery bond with Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds, and Shelley Brown is mildly reminiscent of an early Syd Barrett B-side, they aren’t memorable in the slightest.
Even when they throw everything at it (Brass! Distortion! Five minute length!) on Miles Away, it’s difficult to stifle a yawn. The best that …The Corner Of Miles And Gil gets is the haunting Finn Sophie Bobby And Lance, which despite bearing a uncanny similarity to Don’t Speak by No Doubt, actually manages to strike some kind of meaningful chord.
It is, truth be told, more than a little bland. Pleasant, easy to have on the background whilst accomplishing some meandering task, but not exactly riveting. In fact, if we’re looking for some kind of binding metaphor, it’d probably be somewhere more at the blu-tac level.
An old-fashioned band, who aren’t as good as they were. How strangely ironic. What’s perhaps even more ironic, is Noel has managed to sign a band probably ten years past their peak. And *that* is the kind of irony you could make a suit of armour out of.