Shack - The Corner of Miles and Gil (sampler)

Thomas 15/05/2006

Rating: 3/5

If you don't remember Shack, don't worry, no-one else really does either. They have a "loyal following", which means Noel Gallagher and three other old blokes
who wear cardigans talk of them fondly in pubs.

But of course that's no reason to dismiss new material from brothers Mick and John Head, who've been crafting understated guitar pop songs together for a good 20 years and whose '99 LP 'HMS Fable' was hailed on its release as a minor classic. Four new tracks appear here ahead of a full album in May, and they show a band frustratingly capable of brilliance yet hemmed in by cosy arrangements that play for 'Classic' but hit 'Hovis advert' and as such only go home with a goodie bag.

Things start acceptably enough with 'Tie Me Down', an upbeat, horn-assisted strumalong that sounds like Gorky's Zygotic Coral (and appears to be about err,
use your imagination), it's just a shame that it runs out of lyrics halfway through. 'Cup of Tea' however, is just as exciting as its title suggests and 'Butterfly' four and a half minutes of a solitary two-chord riff and a mire of horns.

It's when they break out of these confines that the little sparks start a fire. Final pick 'Shelly Brown' truly sparkles as it twists and trickles, strings and woodwind used to perfection, age-honed harmonies shifting the song's mood with natural ease. It feels organic and refreshingly human, something Shack have always been; it's just a pity this sometimes means they seek out comfort instead of reaching for the sky.