There are moments and encounters which truly ignite our individual imaginations and passions, meetings which spark a new passion, inspiration or maybe an obsession within us all. One which might be the source of many of those eruptions is the debut album from UK quartet Shaking Chains. It is a release which immediately gripped our attention and as swiftly an addictive tendency before its creative theatre and rousing enterprise; Overvalued Ideas quite simply for us one of the year’s first essential explorations.
Shaking Chains is a Manchester outfit which formed it seems around seven years ago taking its name from Shelley’s poem, The Mask of Anarchy. What is certain is that the foursome of Jack Mahoney (lead vocals/guitar), Nathan McIlroy (bass/vocals), Alex Solo (guitar/vocals) and Jack Hardiker (drums/vocals) search and explore uniqueness and innovation in every aspect of their creativity as strikingly shown with their 2017 single Midnight Oil and its accompanying AI driven video. Subsequent tracks have continued to court such adventure whilst offering some of the most virulent of indie/art pop incitements but none as irresistible as those within Overvalued Ideas.
Produced by Jim Noir, Overvalued Ideas is a fusion of indefinable familiarity and startling uniqueness, its tracks instantly a lure to knowing participation yet second by second unveiling lone character and eccentric individuality. Influences to the band are said to include “folk music, old Irish and Greek stuff, country, gospel blues, but also Talking Heads, The Pixies and Iggy Pop,” though across their new full-length we heard essences first found in artists such as early Orange Juice, Josef K and the like. It makes for a web of sound and adventure which is like no other and a release which will be rarely challenged this year in compelling idiosyncrasy and addictive ingenuity.
There is no denying we bred a lustful appetite for Overvalued Ideas and one immediately erupting from the first venture into opener I share your fear. A lone melody initially dangles temptation but is quickly joined by the as magnetic baritone tones of Mahoney. The croon is only enhanced by the firm dramatic hands of rhythms and backing vocals, though to call them backing assistance diminishes their presence, potency and prowess here and across the whole of the album. They create duets of texture and temptation which alone here had us gripped as much as the Mediterranean sighs and swarthy essences which wrap the highly seductive encounter.
The sensational start is more than cemented by the following Chosen One, a track which rhythmically saunters in before swinging and twisting with an indie pop jangle and emotively creative psychosis. As many tracks it addresses beliefs and apathetic subservience politically and socially, lyrics as animated as the sounds which fuel their personality. There is a hint of bands like The Cathode Ray and Half Man Half Biscuit to the track which only further enthrallingly colours its brief but irresistible stroll.
No More Bets slips in with almost somnambulistic elegance, a dreamy breath which continues even as again that aligning of vocals amidst darker rhythmic shadows heralds a blossoming into a gloriously absorbing pop song. As everywhere, every note is an adventure and syllable a magnetic lure greedily devoured by ears with next up I must confess revelling in its post punk lined, seventies punk pop hued saunter. Stoor meets The Fire Engines-esque and by a nose our favourite moment within Overvalued Ideas, it is two minutes of sonic manna.
The psych folk captivation of Fire Bobbies (What fettle bonnie lad?) furthers the eclectic personality of the Shaking Chains sound and the imagination casting the album’s landscape, the song a seductive shuffle for hips and feet and a serenade for ears and imagination as sublimely elegant as it is energetically spirited. Enthralling from first to last breath, its rich temptation is echoed in the dark tale of Lead the Guards Astray. Keys caress the senses as vocals paint the imagination, its gentle yet dramatic start growing into an impassioned roar, a folk bred shanty like eruption of the heart set within just as picturesque and soulful sounds.
Through infection loaded Bumper Sticker Patriots with its Bill Nelson meets Young Knives hued canter and in turn Into Dust which is built on military nurtured rhythms and vocal majesty, the album found fresh aspects to seduce and conquer in the passions, the second of the two another major lust for these ears with its authoritative air and drama loaded enterprise.
Joy of Living completes the release, a riveting moment in voice, sound and presence seducing and crooning every ounce of unbridled attention its way for quite simply a magnificent end to a quite stunning release.
The overvalued idea “first described by Wernicke, refers to a solitary, abnormal belief that is neither delusional nor obsessional in nature, but which is preoccupying to the extent of dominating the sufferer’s life.” Well Overvalued Ideas whilst exploring such themes has become obsessive to and a dominator of our attention with no suffering involved, only the greatest pleasure.
Overvalued Ideas is out now: available @ https://shakingchains.bandcamp.com/releases
Pete RingMaster 05/02/2021
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