20 for ’14: Shellac – Dude Incredible

Part 20 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of last year

Trust Shellac to announce their return after another 7 year absence with a decidedly silly song about Dude Adventures featuring a Maiden-esque galloping bassline behind it’s chorus. Only in their sardonic little world could that possibly make sense. Their collective tongue has rarely been out of their cheek in the past twenty-odd years. The only really surprise with this and a fair chunk of the rest of Dude Incredible is how immediate it is. There’s often the sense that you’re being held at arms length by Albini and co, and whilst Dude Incredible is hardly a warm embrace it does feel a little less hostile. Their usual lockstep meticulous approach to alt rock is still the same as it ever was, it just feels a little more playful, a little more like they’re enjoying themselves.

As well they might – despite their sporadic approach to recording and touring they’ve earned the right to do whatever they like. Not that they’d ever have asked permission for that in the first place, but still. It would be quite a stretch to say they’re mellowing in their old age – the riffs still hit hard and they’re as abrasive as ever. But they’ve rarely been described as sounding fun. And yet here we are. Dude Incredible, the song and a fair percentage of the record at large, is a record merrily bringing the smiles between bursts of tightly wound guitar aggression. And shockingly it suits the old curmudgeons rather well.

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