Turn-Up The Volume, Shitwife's Debut 'Big Lad' Will Blow You Away
I was on holiday when this album arrived in my inbox, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the volume button after a bit of a dearth in good sounds.
I’d like to start by making a few apologies… firstly to the family staying in the villa next door whose swimming pool water vibrated perfectly in time to the beats on this album, secondly to anyone I may have inadvertently been a shit wife to in my search for mind-blowing music, thirdly to Passport to Stockholm because I might just prefer Henri’s drumming in Shitwife, and lastly to my neighbours now that I’m back home in London who are persistently banging the walls. Actually that’s all shit, no sorrys from me at all, this album is too good to apologise for. But it does need to be played loud. The louder the better.
Nine tracks. Each one surprisingly made by only two people, one with a set of drums, one with a laptop. The genre is hard for me to name, but ‘electronic pounding beats’ and ‘violent sound crash’ seem to cover it. It’s brutal and unruly and completely out of control, it’s like that long tube of hyperbolic paraboloid shaped crisps, once you pop, you just can’t stop.
The album opener ‘High Octane Party Banger’ probably tells you in a nutshell what this is all about. Fast and furious, some weird kind of war cry about a minute in, then banging drums that are as fast as any I’ve ever heard before. There are a few teeny moments of respite in-between (I guess even Henri needs a couple of pauses) but it’s definitely the drums on this one which take it from the sublime to the extraordinary. Henri draws from a huge range of drumming geniuses of varying styles and genres, and his formative years spent replicating Travis Barker videos have clearly paid off.
Next up ‘Hand Banana’ starts all mysterious and creepy like some darkly demonic comic strip master-villain appearing out of the shadows, before KAPOW the rhythm kicks in again, and it develops into some epic battle between good and evil. Fittingly the band have been described as Wayne Adams (laptop) vs Henri Grimes (drums) and the playful wrangling between the two is quite evident.
Track three ‘Clammy Little Hands’ is a little more gentle, although still full of electronic darkness, not quite as mental on the percussion. I think the neighbours like this one the most. Then it’s Mary’s decider… track four… although we all know I’ve already made my decision. And ‘The Reason for the Season is the Pleasin’ doesn’t let me down. It’s faster and furiouser than any of the songs so far and definitely one that would be amazing to see live.
‘Shoot a Bear it’s Dead’ is next and this has a kind of Aphex Twin vibe to it. Almost as if Shitwife were the surviving foetus from a twin pregnancy which had consumed Aphex Twin in gestation then struggled and pushed before entering the world all twisted and wrinkly and screaming its lungs out. ‘Die Hard 4 Point 0’ is next and this is a slightly more challenging listen for me, initially it’s harsh and unforgiving, but then it turns mellow, almost jazz-like for a few seconds before it kicks in hard. Then jazzy and melting mellowness again towards the end, before BOOOOOOOM!!!!
‘Kablab’ is next, seriously I don’t know how the drums are so fast, Henri must need a little lie-down after this one. The penultimate track ‘Thomas Brewins’ is quite refined and almost soothing in comparison, still fast, still furious, but much lighter and a pretty and delicate tune going on. Finally, track number nine, ‘More Goose Than Maverick’ is without a doubt my favourite of the album. It’s all Top Gun and Kelly McGillis and fighter pilots in their khaki jumpsuits. Totally ace controlled loops and spins from Shitwife, and if this is how good it sounds from a little speaker I really can’t wait to hear it live.
To find out more about Shitwife click here.
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Words by Mary Long