By Phil Scarisbrick
Barely eight months after its release, Pet Shimmers retain the eccentricity and melodic qualities of Face Down in Meta, but build on the promise of their debut to create another odd world for us to spend time in
When Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, said earlier this year, ‘you can’t record every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough,’ there was serious collective anger from musicians and fans alike. Nobody summed up people’s feelings more succinctly than REM’s Mike Mills who simply told Ek – ‘Go fuck yourself.’ The reason for people’s ire was the transformation of music from being art to a commodity that is pumped out on a miserable conveyor belt of beigeness. You can’t simply increase productivity in art like you would in manufacturing. As much as today’s most popular chart ‘singer-songwriters’ rely on a team of ‘co-writers’ big enough to fill a League Two football ground, you can’t just add bodies to the production line. Music takes time to be created, to hone, and to get out to as wide an audience as possible.
Then come Bristol’s Pet Shimmers, barely eight months after the release of their debut album – Face Down in Meta – with a sophomore album that is every bit its equal. Continuing with the theme of Super Furries-esque, psych-pop, the key components that endeared us in January are still there. The layers of electronic instruments feeling like they’re in a sonic foot race, at times, grappling with one another for prominency to make an interesting and nuanced listeneing experience. Recent single, All Time Glow, feels like you’re listening in to the private conversation happening in the broom cupboard of a house party, while everyone else is in the front room where they feel like the ‘real’ party is happening. The vocals never quite get to the top of the mix, but still cut through with beautiful, interloping melodies.
Live In Atrocity ebbs and flows through the dark corridors of a mystical house – peaking behind the various doors en route to unveil a variety of moods and experiences, before settling into an uncomfortable baritone meditation. Imber follows up with a distant soprano singing Hallelujah (the hymn, not the Leonard Cohen song) before bursting into a plodding, toe-tapping groove – occasionally returning to our initial vocalist like tuning an AM radio. Overboard also has this lo-fi, distant intro to it; this time, though, it is simply the same song, but going from a crap radio to a great one – bursting with energy, as the various instruments tangle with the solid, simple drum beat.
Like their debut, perhaps Trash Earthers‘ finest moment is its closer. Inside The Truest Centre of Anything is as near to a simple acoustic tune as we’re likely to hear from this band. By simple acoustic tune, though, we mean that an acoustic guitar provides the base for the oft-kilter vocal that is joined by other competing voices to create a joyous, choral full stop for the record.
While Mike Mills’ instruction for Daniel Ek still remains the best piece of advice he could recieve, Pet Shimmers have shown that it is possible to release new music of quality at regular intervals. Bookending 2020 with their first two albums, they bring some eccentric light to the darkness of the world. While Face Down in Meta made us excited to see where they’d go, Trash Earthers confirms that that excitement was anything but unfounded.
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