20 January, 2021

Shjrunken Heads – Neolithic Dog

Despite wanting to resign last year to the bin we’re still rounding up our 2020 reviews as there were a few releases we didn’t want to miss out!
Shjrunken Heads snuck out a new album, ‘Neolithic Dog’, at the tail end of 2020. Their mixture of post rock, psych and krautrock has always been intoxicating and this is certainly still the case here.

Opening with suitably strange backwards synths and cymbals, intro track Mr Nice Guy is full of moody post rocky guitar and bass. The vocals are eery as ever as it constantly teases at launching into a heavy riff, stopping short before really taking off.

Depth of Feel’s hypnotic Can-like drums strange phased vocals, spacious atmospherics, organ and wavering guitar sounds conjure images of a creepy funfair.
The heavy groove of Karnaval, with its dirty Crampsy bassline and delayed guitars has real guts to it. The droney synths sit somewhere between Radiohead and Butthole Surfers as they warp satisfyingly. The punchy straightforward drums push the song towards it’s insane, almost skipping, crescendo. This flows into

The punchdrunk psychedelic ditty Whiskey and Poppers. The comedic carnival bassline and peculiar piano string sounds are quite Beatles-esque (think For the Benefit of Mr Kite etc).

Jump in the Nile takes a more prog approach. The bass groove and tight drums lock in brilliantly together, setting a platform for the quivering subtle guitar and glistening synth sounds. The vocal line has hints of The Flaming Lips’s “See The Leaves”.

The electronic drums of Cremantique refresh the ear. The keys are Broadcast-like while the vocals are utterly mad, especially the nonsense garbling of the backing vocals. Eventually everything fades out and we’re left with the cultish, haunted vocals and keys. It’s almost nightmarish.

Penultimate track Age Of Old opens on a solid riff before twitching into a fidgety ants in your pants bassline and fat tribal drums. Delayed synth arpeggios bounce satisfyingly between the speakers before the guitar adds disorientating rhythms.

Once again the vocals show Shjrunken heads are a serious band with a sense of humour.

They round things up with the title track, Neolithic Dog. Opening on purposeful drums and pulsing three note bassline, it has hints of Pink Floyd if Syd Barrett was still playing with them in the 70s.
The guitars add ample space to the trance-like repetition as they build layers of crazed vocals. It eventually fades out into a lo-fi segment of weird plinky plonky keys and a frankly absurd vocal about finding a dog in a neolithic bog.

With Neolithic Dog, Shjrunken Heads have progressed and got weirder.

Neolithic Dog is out now via Hot Fools Records.

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