[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Thank you, powers that be for delivering another Shellac record to me. These three have been at their task of stripping the humanity out of rock music for years now, never shying away from what their calling is: precision. Concepts such as melody, distraction and escapism do not exist in their world. The lyrics are straight from the hip as is the majority of the music played, Steve Albini and his cohorts have no time to put a smile on your face. Eat a steak while you listen to this, have a cup of tar black coffee. If you’re so inclined, light up afterwards and watch the smoke drift out the window of whatever greasy spoon, derelict diner you’re hearing this in. No frills, no fancy bells and whistles.
Shellac make working man’s music, ‘Dude Incredible’ boasts not just a cynical title but also is comprised of solid meat. If you’ve ever been a drummer, this is the band for you; the recording techniques employed deliver MAXIMUM dynamics and some times the songs are nothing but a fist in the face. Savor that taste of blood in between your teeth, the marrow is where the flavor is at and these three operate in a similar manner. They deliver grooves so tight it’d be against the law to date them in most places. But for all the disillusioned majesty Shellac embody in what they do, they have rules which are strictly adhered to, oh you’d like to know what they are eh.
Put the fucking thing on and figure it out yourself.
Better yet, go read a few interviews, that ought to cloud everything up nicely. Because there’s no margin of error in them, the band are as precise with their answers as they are on album. Even the words they choose impart expediency. Shellac are busy. Please respect that.
Bass, drums, guitar and voice are the weapons alongside fiendish attention to detail during the recording process. They operate partially from this framework and will not deviate for anything; Albini isn’t one to compromise. I suspect the other two hold true to this aim but Steve’s a guy who’ll stand on principle no matter the cost. Investigating the mundane and everyday interactions between people, machinery and yes, even tradition is the continual goal of Shellac. If they’re anything it is predictable and they could care less what anyone thought about that. I never knew how much spite could be packed into a single measure of music until I heard ‘At Action Park’ ages ago and it’s not some kind of ironic passive aggressive spite. This shit is in your face and pounding it into the floor, ready to explode at all times in a highly orchestrated display of brute force.
Short though ‘Dude Incredible’ may be, the seven year wait was worth it. The voice isn’t the angriest part of their arsenal anymore, this has been poured into the music. To have a rhythm section like Todd Trainer and Bob Weston backing you up must be quite an experience because these two are so in-sync with one another it’s, well incredible. Dude. They’ve got it down to the point where they anticipate the other’s move and then lunge forward like greyhounds (excellent, but not Italian) running down that rabbit. Albini’s guitar playing is, appropriately, reminiscent of a dive bomber coming in Kamikazi style; he literally does not care where his notes take you. Some fine riffs got laid down on this record; I’ll leave you to them.