It’s the end of summer, the shorts are packed away and Helios has removed his hat and departed to the land behind the clouds. Sheltering from the chilled breeze of impending autumn, nonchalantly flicking through a myriad of TV music channels, streaming services and YouTube clips available with too much ease; the innumerable generic, plodding dance beats infesting the current crop of chart hits suffocates me with all the gleeful force of a psychotic nursing assistant with a penchant for murder.
Apollo be praised, for phoenix-like Shitwife take flight in resplendent glory. A beacon of hope for a genre desecrated by lumpen EDM and Calvin Harris guest spots. Taking cues from past masters Aphex Twin, UNKLE, The Prodigy, Atari Teenage Riot and with the intensity of Speed Metal played through a Nintendo Gameboy, the London-based two piece are to the current dance music scene what Jeremy Corbyn is to the (New) Labour Party: absolutely fucking vital.
Comprising break-neck drumming from Henri Grimes (Shield Your Eyes) and all manner of noisy nonsense from producer Wayne Adams (Ladyscraper, Death Pedals), Shitwife emerge from the discordant DIY scene of the UK’s capital to create something truly unique. Metal-tronica? Punk-house? It really doesn’t matter what you call it because this defies genre, laughs in the face of categorisation and pisses on the grave of your pre-conceptions.
Big Lad, Shitwife’s debut LP, a long lost soundtrack to an unseen Verhoeven/Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner, tears through your speakers with all the ferocity of an unblinking killing machine – phaser set to “annihilate”. Opener, the appropriately titled “High Octane Party Banger,” is a digital apocalypse of a tune where frenzied drumming battles space-age synth in a chaotic cauldron of hands-in-the-fucking-air-like-you-just-don’t-care euphoria. Still not dancing by the 1 minute mark? You’re dead sunshine, go see an undertaker…
“Hand Banana” is all tech-noir squelch played by Slayer, the foreboding, precise militarism leaving little breathing room for subtlety or escape. “Clammy Little Hands” is significantly more sprightly where Shitwife conjure images of 90s laser quest tournaments with Kurt Russell and Jeff Bridges as the only combatants. By the time track four (“The Reason For The Season Is Pleasin’”) rolls around you’ll be considering black lights and neon swords for the work Xmas party (don’t think, DO IT!).
“Shoot A Bear It’s Dead” slows things down with five minute of sublime grandiosity, the DIY punk duo impressing on an album centrepiece that dares reach for the stars. The truly terrifying “Die Hard 4 Point 0” meanwhile, is easily the most unclassifiable track here where Shitwife yield Industrial destruction jostling with 70s Doctor Who blips in a quiet/loud dynamic like Alec Empire and DJ Shadow tried to write a dystopian grunge instrumental in an abandoned nuclear power plant on Casio keyboards and a giant tin can. Every twist in the tale creates a classic slasher jump-scare leaving the listener bewildered, confused and highly relived when the Nintendo goes breakbeat anthem “Kablab” kicks in. It’s here that Shitwife swerve into “city music”, the soundtrack to late night drives down brightly lit freeways; a group of buddies heading to untold pleasures where escape is always possible.
“Thomas Brewins” is the come down tune. An almost dainty celebration of lives lived and futures untold it’s the most accessible tune on Big Lad, discharging a comforting closure to the nightmarish visions of the distant reality unravelled before.
Big Lad ends with “More Goose Than Maverick,” not only the proud owner of the finest title in musical history but also perfectly embodying a closing credits score as Lead Grips and Best Boys whizz by whilst you wait steadfastly for a post-credits sequence that may never come.
Can’t wait for the sequel.
Head screamer in Dead Arms, Dad to Thomas and big bearded pop-culture geek..