The Shifters – Have A Cunning Plan


There truly must be something in the water in Australia at the moment. The sheer glut of great bands coming out of Melbourne and Brisbane, in particular, right now is astonishing and we’re playing catch up with discovering them. It’s like a music version of Pokemon Go (could there be an app in that? If so, it’s our idea alright?). We’ve already caught a Terry, a Primo, a Stroppies, a Sydney 2000, a Goon Sax and now there’s a Shifters hiding under a desk in the British Library. (Enough childish and outdated referencing already!)

“Have a Cunning Plan” is their exciting new album.

The most obvious comparison to make with The Shifters, upon first listen, is that they are, at times, very much like an Australian version of The Fall.
They often share similar tropes; simplistic, catchy repetitive music providing the perfect complement to the outspoken vocals of the front man.

Of course, the great thing is, due to singing in his own accent, Miles Jansen brings his own character to the table. The choice of keyboard sounds are interesting and it comes as no surprise that this was produced by a member of Terry.
Album opener Molasses is a prime example of this. Work/Life, Gym Etc is pure Fall. The bouncing beat, the chanted chorus, the lyrical celebration of monotony all totally wired.
John Doe’s Colleague shows a different side to the band. The repetition remains but there is a drop in pace, a group vocal, a delivery that recalls the comedic approach of Mclusky (without the Shellac-isms).

Carlisle has a bouncy rhythm, and a sense of fun that could be mistaken for Terry.

They get silly on Medieval Kicks. Short sections with comedic gaps, a catchy tune and daft lyrics. It’s great fun. Pyramid Scheme has a similar feel.

A strange structure that places it somewhere between Duds and The Fall. 

Straight Lines is straight out of 1978. It has a Buzzcocks or Jilted John type melody that gets lodged in your head. They start as they mean to go on on Boer Hymn. The doubled up guitar part picks up pace and, again, almost feels like a softer Mclusky. It almost like a sketch as it seems to end before it really gets going.

How Long? is a garage pop nugget that precedes the final track Andrew Bolt, which begins with a revolving keyboard drone. They hit the 90s slacker button, recalling some of the more “normal” material produced by the Butthole Surfers. It also delivers the most expressive vocal performance of the set and a wonderfully shonky guitar solo.

You may enjoy this if you like: The Fall, Mclusky, Duds, Pavement, Terry.


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