1988 : SHACK – (NME, 28 MAY 1988)

Shack play a small and perfectly formed set of perfectly formed and not so small songs. Not that there’s anything superfluous in these sweetly burning vignettes of inner city reality and regret, but there’s plenty of power.

Flashback to early Eighties: a local radio programme runs a competition for a Pale Fountains record. Choose an adjective that describes the band. The word wet mischievously comes to mind. A no-quite-accurate pun and you couldn’t help liking them anyway, but this is something different.

Among the faintly arty ambience of an arts centre turned populist, Shack (denims and hat) look more like real people than some of the audience. The most severe haircuts are downstairs where Victor the hippest barber in town has been turned into the support act and is turning a nifty line in flat tops.

Meanwhile, on stage, Mike Head is thrashing a 12 string as though it were a town planner. All that’s left of his Pale past is a continuing abundance of pretty melodies and Sixties echoes that come from a slightly different angle, with a fierce mesh of guitars – the word jangly is unavoidable – and even a country air. The words though are pure Eighties, and not giving in.

And the music is kept simple, and strong and spirited. Suddenly, unlike the debut gig mere months ago, Shack are almost ideal. There’s nearly everything you want – tunes, meaning, nice noise, and matter of fact poetry – and nothing you don’t want. It’s very pleasing, very pop, and, this time, cutting too.


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Zilch (1988)
1. Emergency (listen)
2. Someone’s Knocking (listen)
3. John Kline (listen)
4. I Need You (listen)
5. Realization (listen)
6. High Rise Low Life (listen)
7. Who Killed Clayton Square? (listen)
8. Who’d Believe It? (listen)
9. What’s It Like… (listen)
10. The Believers (listen)