After two 7-inch singles and a demo cassette (recently pressed to wax), Melbourne quintet The Shifters finally unveil their first, proper full-length album Have a Cunning Plan. Recorded at (Australian legend) Al Montfort of Total Control / Terry’s home studio, Have A Cunning Plan ups the fidelity a bit, tempering the up-front crunch of their previous demo / LP. The sonic space suits the band, allowing the unpretentious complexity of the songs and lyrics to generate the “oomph” rather than bludgeoning the listener with treble and feedback. The album showcases ten new tracks by the band at their best; scrappy, self-destructive, stumbling and brilliant pop music that seems tossed off or nonchalant on the surface but is rife with rewards upon further listening. Early album bangers like Molasses and the first single Work / Life, Gym Etc are instant earworms, (as are Straight Lines and Pyramid Scheme, the latter reworked from a recent 7-inch) but it’s the simple-yet-sophisticated songcraft of tunes like How Long? or the languid strum of “Andrew Bolt” that are heavy on mood and are vehicles for vocalist/guitarist Miles Jansen’s erudite lyrics that simultaneously celebrate and decry the banality of life, while also tackling larger issues of colonialism conservatism’s effects on society at large. On the surface, there’s no denying the band owe a heavy debt to The Fall, but whatever seeds were planted by the late, great Mark E. Smith, have gestated into an animal all their own. Have A Cunning Plan aims to take them towards a greater plane. For fans of The Fall, Mekons, Wire and The Country Teasers.
LP - Black Vinyl.
LP+ - Limited Orange Vinyl.