Brothers Mick and John Head fronted the underground band The Pale Fountains in the mid-‘80s and were key players in the fertile Liverpool postpunk scene that included fellow Scousers Echo and the Bunnymen. Unfortunately, their brand of subtle pastoral pop was out of tune with the Zeitgeist, which dictated big hair, expensive videos and flashy synthesizer dance tunes. Fortunately, the Head brothers are back, in the form of Shack, perhaps just in time for yet another renaissance of guitar pop.
H.M.S. Fable is not the first Shack album (just for the record, it is number four), but it’s the one likely to finally bring the Heads their long overdue recognition. If the Pale Fountains were chamber pop, then Shack is anthemic, orchestral pop at its glorious best. Wistful and irresistible melodies back up lyrics of well-worn lives. Meanwhile, “Captain’s Table” and “I Want You” are clear tributes to the psychedelia of Michael Head’s idol Arthur Lee (Love). All in all, a rousing and tender reminder that good old-fashioned songwriting with heart will never go out of style.
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