Shellshag - Destroy Me I’m Yours
Record Label: Starcleaner Records
Release Date: March 4, 2008
The world of post-punk is made up of two types of bands: the first type is full of bands that push boundaries and can truly paint a sonic picture using punk influences; the second type is much more common and consists mainly of bands that use a minimal amount of experimentation and do little more than irritate. Brooklyn duo Shellshag fit more within the second category than the first, taking atmospheric rock and combining it with the least appealing elements of punk. The results are mixed at best on their debut album, Destroy Me I’m Yours.
The tracks on Destroy Me I’m Yours can be divided into songs that are simple, loud, and distorted and songs that are soft, melodic, and droning. The loud, distorted songs completely fall flat. “Shut Up” may be the most irritating song released this year, with only two lines of lyrics: "Shh, be quiet / don’t talk no more / I don’t wanna hear the sound of your voice" and “Shut up!” These lines are gratingly repeated over an unmemorable guitar line for an unbearable two and a half minutes. Many of the other songs on the record repeat this formula, including “123,” the only lyrics to which are “one, two three!” repeated fourteen times, and “Right and Wrong,” which combines a predictable guitar part with cliché lyrics like “You are ice and I am fire / You are clean / I am dirt.” These songs take up a good half of the album, and often reduce the band to sounding like a group of screaming children. The best thing about these songs is the fact that they end.
Thankfully, the louder songs on the album are split up by more relaxing songs, influenced by the '90s indie-rock sounds of bands like Yo La Tengo. “Happiness” in particular embodies this sound, with enough dense layering on the guitars to create an atmosphere that the listener can get immersed in, especially when listening through headphones. “Little Birdy” and “Gary’s Note” show that the band can achieve an enjoyable sound when they stick to simplicity, suggesting a more spacey Velvet Underground. Even the slower songs can have their irritating factors, such as the repetition of the phrase “bring us together” for over a minute on “Bridge” and cliché lyrics throughout “Make Love,” but these songs are infinitely more listenable than their distorted counterparts.
Of the positive press Shellshag have received, most of it has focused on their live show. It's easy to see why, as their recorded material leaves much to be desired. While the slower songs may bring a redeeming factor to the record, this isn’t enough to make the album into a worthwhile experience. At times, listening to it seems like an endurance test, particularly on “Zero Girl,” which is simply three-and-a-half minutes of a cymbal being hit over and over. On Destory Me I’m Yours, Shellshag spend so much time attempting to be artistic that they fail to be listenable.