The debut album from Californian punksters The Shell Corporation does not offer up too much in strongly original sounds or directions but it is one rather irresistible release that the more one listens to it the more it captivates and excites. Do not mistake the comment of a lack of uniqueness to their music as a negative as they bring in obvious influences and tastes to forge a fresh and invigorating sound that gives a revitalising spark to the skate punk that rampaged on the senses in the 90’s.
The quartet feature ex members of Time Again, A Wilhelm Scream, Madcap, The Briggs and Le Mu Le Pur and within their sound at times one can hear small flavours from their past but more the music within “Force Majeure“ teases and plays upon the ear with stronger spices from the likes of Bad Religion, early Rise Against, and Hot Water Music, plus at times touches of a non skanking [Spunge]. The album is a feast of straight forward eager punk and anthemic choruses that is impossible to prevent from grabbing hold of the senses. The songs rage and comment about issues that intrude on all lives, from world politics to personal ones the tracks are incisive and a soundtrack to all our unrest and distrust.
Opening track ‘Fuck ‘Em’ tells you all you need to know about the band. The foursome of Jan Drees (vocals/guitar), Curtiss Lopez (guitar/baking vocals), Sean Moore (bass/ baking vocals), and Jake Margolis (drums) hit hard and swiftly to introduce themselves and the release with a quick kick to the ‘valuables’ as they make their declaration of intent. They do not care what you think, either climb on board or go forth…..
“Force Majeure” is nicely varied bringing attacks such as the robust punk of ‘It’s All Over Now’, a Rise Against toned track with a deliciously deep belligerent, alongside the ballad intent of ‘All Of The Best’ for example and though some songs work better than others there is a consistency to the release that ensures full attention throughout. The album starts solidly but gets stronger as it progresses with the two best tracks on “Force Majeure” featuring in the latter part of the release. ‘Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying’ is a real gem, veined by riffs and chords that are immediately recognisable or so one thinks as it is impossible to actually pinpoint their origins, the track is a hypnotic joy. The song bounces and taunts with mischievous riffs and hooks taking the listener along familiar and irrepressible anthemic avenues. As is everywhere on the album, the group harmonies work exceedingly well without overpowering or distracting from the songs other elements.
The second exceptional song on the album is ‘Ozymandias’, an incessant attack that only has one intention, to inflame and stoke up the fires within. Containing a sample of the Howard Beale famous speech from Network, the track is full of aggression and verges on spiteful, its aim to raise questions within and incite thoughts and response. The song has another prominent menacing bass riff and it has to said Moore spines all songs with some of the best basslines heard consistently on a release for a long while.
“Force Majeure” is a fine and thoroughly enjoyable album that plays like an old friend from the off but one you never tire of meeting. On the next release possibly there will be desires for something strikingly new from the band but right now The Shell Corporation have delivered a release that simply does what all albums should do, thrill and please.