Instant Pleasures by Shed Seven – Album Review
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
When it was turning from summer to autumn in 1996, I was working part-time as a gardener at a huge mansion in Norwood Green, Halifax to earn some cash in the summer while I waited for my A-Level results. There was this one mid-morning where I was listening to Radio 1 on my Walkman, and a new tune that had been released that week was pushed in to my ears as I was strimming away down a long, winding, overgrown driveway.
That guitar crunching sound in question was a track called ‘On Standby’, by a Yorkshire band called Shed Seven who I’d heard of, but at that time if it wasn’t Manic Street Preachers, I wasn’t really paying that much attention.
But ‘On Standby’ made me listen. I was taken with it. I made a note of it, and I went in to Halifax that very afternoon and bought the CD single. ‘The Sheds’ had got me hooked – and that day started a (so far) 21-year musical love affair with a band who have been a staple part of my collection ever since.
So… fast forward to 2017, and when I was handed the chance to get an advance copy of their new album Instant Pleasures I snapped it up, and had it on the download within minutes. It was on in the car within the half hour; and I’m not going to beat around the bush – this album slots straight in to the Shed Seven back catalogue as if it’s always been there. Whether that’s testament to the bands writing skills nowadays, back in the day, or throughout their existence – this new album is Shed Seven.
“Picked up from where they left off”
It’s their first new work for 16 years, and I’m sure that every fan will have had an element of trepidation about their decision to do this, sprinkled over the sheer excitement to hear the band’s new material.
I’ll tell you now though: don’t be worried that they might have lost their way as a recording band or might not quite cut it any more… nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve simply picked up from where they left off, and cracked on as if nothing ever happened.
Instant Pleasures then. We’ve got 12 new tracks, and if there’s ever a more appropriate album title, this is it.
‘Nothing To Live Down’ follows new single ‘Room In My House’ as the opening two tracks, and once they’ve taken hold of you, you’re back in the mid-90s, down the front. It’s like you’ve heard this album loads of times before. And you love it.
What you know with Shed Seven is that tracks like ‘Going For Gold’, ‘Bully Boy’ and ‘Disco Down’ is that they’re as current, and as good today as they always were. They’ve aged so well, still get airtime, and still sound as relevant nowadays as they did the first time you played them.
And this is why I reckon that Instant Pleasures seems like they’re just naturally following on from the days of Change Giver, A Maximum High and Let It Ride.
‘Said I’m Sorry’ is my favourite track on the album. It’s got that funky indie beat that a number of Shed’s tracks have had over the years, and at track four it’s a welcome tune in to the running order. The volume goes up when this comes on.
The uplifting ballads soon make an appearance too. The euphoric ‘Hang On To Yourself’, and the similar ‘Better Days’ serve well, entwined within riff-fuelled pieces like ‘Victoria’ and ‘Star Crossed Lovers’ – the latter being so Shed Seven-ish, I had to double check that I hadn’t got a faulty copy of the album and they’d included a track on it that they’d released before.
With the 16-year gap comes a slight injection of maturity in to this album – you get that – but it’s so subtle that it doesn’t detract from the fact that this is pure Shed Seven. I can’t find any disappointment.
I read a tweet from Rick Witter where he said that they’d probably only play four tracks from the new album during their winter tour. Well, I can understand this, but I’ll be sad if that’s the case. I expect such a fan reaction to Instant Pleasures, that they change their minds and include a good few more in to the set list.
An absolute delight of an album that I’ve played it six times since I first put it on in the car; and it’s firmly my favourite album by any artist in a long time. And I think fellow Shed Seven fans will be uber-pleased when they manage to get their hands on a copy when it’s released on November 10th.
Get your pre-orders in, and get ready to get a feeling of sheer exhilaration when you first play it.
Great work, guys. Don’t leave it so long next time…