Monday, 21 November 2016

Album Review: Misery + Disaster by Shit Present (by Emma Prew)

Earlier this month, and following on from their 2015 debut self-titled EP, Shit Present released a new 6-track EP titled Misery + Disaster. We got sent Misery + Disaster to review by the lovely folk at Specialist Subject Records, ahead of its release. Unfortunately they sent it while we were on holiday in Florida so I’ve ended up writing this after the album is officially released (sorry!) – but it also means I have my pretty screenprinted vinyl version (and a lyric sheet) now!

The first song on Misery + Disaster is called Sick Of Me and it was the first to be released to the world, a couple of months before the EP – it was a frequently played track of mine for several weeks. Starting off with a clip of a voicemail message, Sick Of Me doesn’t entirely break new ground for the band but it is just as just good as the songs on their self-titled record. It is angsty and punchy with catchy singalong-able lyrics. The subject matter in Shit Present songs are often quite personal to Iona and this is the case here, with the song being about being unhappy in a relationship. ‘You’ve got a lot of nerve talking about my misery, I’ve got a lot of nerve needing a bit more time to breathe.’

Next up is The Line. It starts off a little quieter than usual with the vocals simply accompanied by palm-muted guitar. That doesn’t last long however and The Line soon becomes a full band affair. Lyrically this song is quite hard-hitting with Iona expressing feelings of anxiety – not an uncommon subject for the band. She sings of ‘standards’ that people have, or perhaps a certain person, and how it can often seem impossible to meet them. ‘There are days that I only see unnatural light, I can’t go outside when I’m so easy to criticise.’ 

Shit Talk is the third song on Misery + Disaster and is probably my favourites. It’s a mid-tempo track with some great distorted guitars. The music gives the song a sort of care-free tone (or perhaps more of a ‘I don’t give a fuck’ feel, as this is Shit Present we’re talking about) but, of course, the lyrics tell a different story. The chorus in particular, while being pretty darn catchy, feels like a punch in the face to the person that Iona is singing about. It’s a break-up song but it isn’t a sad one – it’s an angry one. ‘You’ll be doing well, You’ll land right on your feet. My personal hell is when you’re leaving me.’

With one of the longer musical introductions of the album, House (Breakdown) is a song with pounding drums and melodic guitars. It feels like the introduction could have easily gone on for a fair bit longer than its 30 seconds without dragging but, hey, Shit Present aren’t a band to idle. The song is another about feeling negative, anxious and insecure but somehow the lyrics seem to hit home all the more – these are after all feelings that many of us have, whether we admit it or not. Sometimes you just need to let it out. ‘Break down, break down, nothing can save me now. I’ll just smash it all up and I’ll let it all out.’

Evil Way, the penultimate track on Misery + Disaster is a melodic and upbeat indie punk song with some excellent guitar riffs – the bit right at the beginning actually reminds me of The Menzingers. Evil Way is about someone who pushes others away when they’re feeling down and that that isn’t necessary the best course of action. ‘You just keep fucking up but in the most evil way, Twisting all my words until I’ve got nothing left to say and I know you might feel alone but it’s not okay, And I’m not the only person you pushed away.’ The chorus is powerful but it’s the closing lines of the song that really stick with you – ‘You said you love how I speak the truth, Wish I could say the same of you.’

Bringing the EP to a close is Against The World!. Mixing things up a bit, this song starts with a more stripped back sound than we’re used to with Shit Present. The guitars are jangly and although, I think, not actually acoustic they have more of a folk punk feel than the band's more typical indie punk. For the first minute the song sounds very different, until the volume is cranked up and Iona really lets out her anger and frustration. Although the sense of anger from the rest of the EP returns in the song, it still sounds more set apart from the other songs on Misery + Disaster – and not in a bad way. Against The World! is a refreshing end to another great Shit Present EP.

Shit Present’s debut self-titled EP was great and Misery + Disaster is just as good. You can buy it now from Specialist Subject – and they might even have some of the screenprinted vinyl left. You can also find the band on Facebook here.