February 09, 2022

Shack - Time Machine: The Best of Shack (2007)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Indie Rock, Britpop
Label Number: JDNCCD008X

© 2007 Sour Mash
At first glance, this otherwise grand career-spanner seems frustratingly incomplete: What a logistically fastidious, but regrettable decision to ignore leader Michael Head's lone "solo" LP as Michael Head & the Strands, 1997's incomparable The Magic World of the Strands. All longtime fans know that it is 1) really no different from the other Shack LPs, in style or in personnel since both crucial Head brothers were present, and 2) universally regarded as their best record. And Shack have released only five LPs otherwise over their two decades, one of which, the 1988's debut Zilch, was all but disowned as it's banished from here. Fortunately, the last four Shack LPs were also plenty good, especially the three made possibly so far by the disbanded group's reformation following Magic World's ecstatic reception. And more than 1999's HMS Fable, 2003's Here's Tom with the Weather, and 2006's The Corner of Miles & Gil individually, Time Machine makes a strongest case that these two talking Heads have been among the freshest songwriters and popsmiths of the last eight years. One after another, another gem descends: long, languid, splendid and resplendent, playful, and in full belief of the power of the most romantic pop soundscapes matched to unfussy, tuneful harmonies. For a whopping 69 minutes, via 17 golden-touched pretties, the Heads, steady drummer Iain Templeton, and a few bassists find a "magic" place where spiritual godfather Arthur Lee of Love (who Shack backed on a U.K. tour) communes with McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison, via the La's modern production (without the ‘50s rock and skiffle) with hints of Nick Drake, Beach Boys, and Stone Roses. Even old fans will newly delight in the exquisite loveliness anew, while taking in two neglected non-LP singles and two brand new songs of equal quality to remind that Michael Head is anything but finished after three decades (going back to respected early ‘80s Liverpool foursome Pale Fountains). Tickling kisses of guitar music can't feel much nicer, more gently moving, without the slightest hint of wimpiness or too much wispiness.

tags: shack, time machine, the best of shack, 2007, flac,

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