Review: Shit Present- ‘Misery and Disaster’ (EP, Specialist Subject)

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Reviews

‘Misery and Disaster’ is the second EP from relatively new UK indie-pop-punkers Shit Present. I had pretty big expectations of it after the brilliance of their debut self-titled EP, which came out late last year on Specialist Subject Records. ‘Misery and Disaster’ is basically a continuation of that first EP, musically and thematically and is in no way a disappointment in the slightest. Iona Cairns (Great Cynics) is an increasingly compelling frontwoman. Nothing quite reaches the heights of the cathartic rage of “Anxious Type”, but as a whole package, ‘Misery and Disaster’ is probably superior in most ways. As musicians, Shit Present have evidently improved and the guitars are now crunchier, the vocals clearer and the melodies now really shining through. “House (Breakdown)” and “The Line” are Shit Present’s meat and potatoes: quiet, driven openings which burst into cathartic and energetic choruses, with introspective, deeply personal lyrics to boot.

“House (breakdown)” is probably the best song on the EP and the best example of this kind of songwriting. The song begins slow and intense, with Iona describing someone’s battle with anxiety and depression from a 3rd person perspective: “Your neighbour says, she’s sick of hearing your radio/ your best friend says you’re always late, it’s like you don’t fucking care at all/ and you tried to write things down, but you couldn’t concentrate”.  This leads to a nihilistic chorus, which advocates smashing it all up and starting again. “Sick of Me” is rather unlike the similarly titled Descendents track; here, Shit Present keep a decent, driving melody and tempo throughout, pushing forwards to a killer chorus: “You’ve got a lot of nerve talking about my misery/ I’ve got a lot of nerve taking a bit more time to breathe”. Melodically, this is a pretty straightforward pop-punk track, but it simultaneously manages to avoid genre trappings. It is so refreshing to hear someone’s voice shine through in a genre where individuality is not explored enough.

However, if we are talking about melody, the catchiest song on this EP is the hook-filled indie punk of “Evil Way”. It has a wonderful, melancholic twang to it. It reminds me a little bit of one of Chumped’s spikier numbers. The lyrics on this one are also fantastic. It describes an ugly end to a relationship. I like how it flips a recent trope in ‘fest-style’ punk. I mean, I like a good majority of this kind of punk, but I do feel that ‘fucking up’ has been romanticised to a large extent by this community. I’m thinking The Menzingers, particularly. Shit Present turn this on its head by writing from the perspective of someone who is in a relationship with the aforementioned ‘fuck up’: “You just keep fucking up and in the most evil way/ twisting all my words until I’ve got nothing left to say”. I’m not totally sure but I feel like there are multiple perspectives and narratives present on ‘Misery and Disaster’, which is always refreshing to hear.

This is essentially a ‘break-up record’, without all the clichés and trappings that entails. ‘Misery and Disaster’ is intensely and almost uncomfortably intimate, with the opening line from the EP setting the mood: “I thought I’d never forgive myself for the way it felt/ to be lying in your arms while thinking of someone else”. I think the feeling of anxiety has rarely been so well portrayed in pop-punk as on this EP. Essentially: ‘Misery and Disaster’ deals with the personal and confessional in a similar vein as, say, early Waxahatchee, while still generating enough pop-punk hooks to be reminiscent of, say, The Ergs!

Check it out here: https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/misery-disaster

DB

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