Shrag are five Brighton friends, two girls & three boys that make happy, twee 1980’s soaked indie pop music. Blending distorted post-punk jangly guitars, girl/boy vocals and the odd scream, I pleasantly hear strong echoes of familiar sounds from my youth, the likes of The B52’s, Talulah Gosh, Girls At Our Best and The Au Pairs.
The album opens with A Certain Violence, with its heavy homage to the B52’s; followed by Stubborn Or Bust which blends elements of B52’s girl/boy harmonies & twangy 1950s style guitar riff while introducing a 1980s indie pop garage edginess. From here on the tracks blend several retro indie pop styles but never venturing into the My Bloody Valentine buzzguitar noise influence adorned by their New York contemporaries, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
Life! Death! Prizes! includes the wonderful current single, Rabbit Kids; which would not be out of place on the re-issued Pleasure album from the underrated early 1980s Leeds based group, Girls At Our Best (best known for originally recording Getting Nowhere Fast, later recorded by The Wedding Present).
Furnishings shows a quieter, almost ‘lighter in the air’, side to the sound of Shrag. It reminds me of the very sugar-coated Talulah Gosh and the very gorgeous Amelia Fletcher from the mid-1980s now affectionately known as the ‘Sound of C86’. Whereas Tights In August seems to seamlessly fuse Girls At Our Best, Talulah Gosh and even a slice of Monochrome Set with its deeper male vocal lead and sixties keyboard sound.
Other tracks like Ghosts Before Breakfast introduce a rough and ready post-punk funky element of the Gang Of Four Variety; while More Than Mornings offers a more expansive sound with jagged noisy guitar, and heavier metallic bass line that lead me to believe they were about to burst into a cover of The Fall’s 2 By 4!
Shrag’s debut album was released in 2009, a compilation of the five previously released 7” singles. So for all intense & purpose Shrag actually see Lies! Death! Prizes! as a debut album; and in these times of awfully bland copycat R&B pop stars, X-Factor celebrity nonsense and post Libertines/ Arctic Monkeys so-called ‘indie’ music that has created legends of unpolished waifer-thin ‘also rans’, on the strength of this album I am happy to shout from the rooftops that Shrag are purveyors of good quality ‘real’ pop music for Nintendo DS generation indie kids everywhere!
Following UK tours supporting The Cribs and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Shrag set out on their own headline tour beginning at the end of September to support the album release on 4th October.
Shrag UK Tour Dates
Monday 27th, The Social, London
The Victoria, Birmingham
Wednesday 29th, Harley, Sheffield
Royal Park Cellars, Leeds
The Hydrant, Brighton
The Lexington, London