Wednesday, December 3, 2008

104. Shellac - 1000 Hurts

I'm not a huge Shellac fan. Steve Albini is one of those people who walk the fine line between genius and crap. He's done wonders with The Pixies, The Breeders, Nirvana and Helmet, but his own stuff, particularly Shellac, tends to be so minimalistic that it becomes nothing more than pretentious performance art.

I bought this album for one song only, so I'll just go ahead and review that song.

Prayer to God stands out above anything else the band - or any of Albini's bands - has ever done. It's a striking, bare essence song where the music is not as important as the words or the emphatic singing. Basically, it's a song about a guy who wants two people killed, a guy and girl who, we presume, are a girl who cheated on him and the guy she cheated with. So he prays to God to have them both killed.

To the one true God above:
here is my prayer -
not the first you've heard, but the first I wrote.
(not the first, but the others were a long time ago).
There are two people here, and I want you to kill them.
Her - she can go quietly, by disease or a blow
to the base of her neck,
where her necklaces close,
where her garments come together,
where I used to lay my face...
That's where you oughta kill her,
in that particular place.

This is all sung in a plaintive plea over staccato guitar bursts. But it's not until the next verse that the song nails its place in my heart.

Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts.
Yes I do, I want it to,
fucking kill him but first
make him cry like a woman,
(no particular woman)

Maybe it's my dark sense of humor, I don't know. But the first time I heard this song and that one line - no particular woman - was sung, I thought, that's a genius bit of writing, there. And Prayer to God became an instant favorite.

Maybe I'll go back and give the rest of the album a try again.

Prayer to God
Steve Albini talks of food


steelopus said...


When you said:
"It's a striking, bare essence song where the music is not as important as the words..."
it immediately made me think of one of my favorite artists, David Bazan (Pedro The Lion, Headphones, solo). I've often claimed to not be much of a lyrical guy, but I worship the words of David Bazan just as much as the beautiful music he creates.

This song, by his Headphones project, has minimalistic music that really only exists to support the melody and the words:

Hello operator, I would like to place a call
to the pale grey telephone that is hanging on the wall.
I know this may sound crazy but could you patch me through
so she does not hear me ringing. I will wait; I've got nothing else to do.
So when she finally picks me up, checking for a dial tone,
to finger in the number of her new lovers telephone:
I will be resting on the earlobe that I used to hunt and peck.
I will slowly wrap myself around her pretty little neck.
I'll begin the explanation as to why she cannot breathe.
"You should not have been unfaithful.
You should not have ever fucked with me."

-Headphones : Hello Operator

(I think a valid analogy would be that David Bazan is to me as QOTSA is to you.)

michele said...

I think you just made a fan out of me.

steelopus said...

Excellent. If you want advice on where to start (he's prolific) I'd be more than happy to give you some direction.
He's excellent at writing slightly morbid, some might say depressing, lyrics and pairing them with music that feels upbeat and optimistic. Brilliant.

Sigivald said...

Squirrel Song is pretty high-larious, too.

("Because they were squirrels! REAL SQUIRRELS!"


"This isn't some kind of metaphor. God damn, this is real.")