The last time Shard sent us a CD they included a quirky biography and a collection of images as confusing as Israel’s 1998 Eurovision Song Contest winner. This time round they’ve included a quirky biography and a collection of photographs that would have a politician biting down on an orange in a matter of seconds.
However, shoving the disk with it’s ‘suggestion of naked’ imagery into the CD player, it’s clear that not everything is so similar to our last brush with these lustful nymphettes…
Quickly skimming over the things that are the same, such as the Albarn / Strummer / Smith inspired vocals, the glam-pop-rock style and the third track ‘Le Petit Mort’ (which made an appearance on their album) big differences are evident in areas such as recording quality as well as the punchier songwriting.
This advancement manifests itself immediately in opener ‘Make Me Butterfly’, which plonks a big riff up front before presenting a mix of eighties pop, nineties brit-pop, and plain old rock and roll. The male vs female vocals in the break are reminiscent of the lesser-known union of Smith and Sprackling for ‘Just Say Yes’.
‘Die Happy Picnic’ is a more obscure track with lots of sparkling keyboards in the chorus that elevate it high above the almost-cheesy verse with it’s fun sound and cheeky breaks.
‘Le Petit Mort’ has had a spring clean, emerging glossy and chilled, with the ‘do-do-do-do’ section upgraded to a ‘da-do-da-do’ affair. This track is a strange mix between Spandau Ballet and The Divine Comedy with the ever present Robert Smith influence thrown in too. The lyrical highlight of the track pops up in the ‘lick my skin and I’ll let you shave me’ line, which contradicts the claims of innocence that round off the track.
Sleazy (but incredibly well shaven) on the outside, vulnerable and dark on the inside, Shard have grown up since their ‘In Perfection’ LP and added some real quality to their style while retaining all the attraction of their previous releases.