By Jack Holmes
Specialist Subject Records have a real knack for finding artists with a passion for heartfelt music. From Smith Street Band, Doe, Above Them and Muncie Girls, they’ve introduced us to bands from across that world share a passion for great, honest writing that’s difficult to find one band who exhibit, let alone an entire label of them. Shit Present are one of those artists, a supergroup made up of former members of Great Cynics, Gnarwolves, the aforementioned Smith Street Band and The Computers. Their first self-titled EP was released back in 2015 offering up five tracks of the band’s unique blend of indie punk, including the hugely catchy Anxious Type. The four piece return this month with their follow-up EP, Misery + Disaster, offering up mostly more of the same, but you know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Shit Present aren’t the type to overcomplicate their songs, they write tracks that have you hooked after a quick catchy intro and then hold your attention with catchy background riffs while heartfelt lyrics take centre stage. Those lyrics come from former Great Cynics member Iona Cairns, whose voice makes up the core of Shit Present’s sound with her heartfelt, strikingly honest anecdotes, and in this EP’s case regularly focusing on alienation, mental health and relationships. It could easily become a bleak affair, the chorus of the track House (Breakdown) for example which explores mental health and treatment “did the doctor say you lacked some chemicals, did he write you up something to make you feel less terrible?”. However, Cairns has mastered a “nothing to prove” attitude, with Shit Present’s tracks never seeking approval, just an ear to listen to them and make your own mind up.
The EP’s six tracks never stray far from the three-minute mark and hit hard and quickly. There are no in-between track blends or instrumental bridge interludes, in fact there’s nothing to distract from the core of each song, whether that be Cairn’s asking if “all the standards that you set, are all inside my head?” on The Line, or fear of failure and insanity on Against the World!
Misery + Disaster opens with Sick of Me and Cairns and co start as they mean to go on. Floaty guitars and lyrics that present an ex-lover as more of an irritation than a heart breaker, singing “you’ve got a lot of nerve talking about my misery”. “I don’t know what you want I can just tell you’re unhappy” she bravely sings later in the track, there really is nothing left on the table with these tracks, and the serious nature of the content of each track is kept positive by uplifting, energetic riffs and drum beats throughout the EP.
It’s followed by The Line which although slightly more forgettable than some of the other tracks featured on the EP, still features a pulsing bassline that carries the track and gives it an energy that carries listeners through.
Evil Way has a nice rapid riff that mixes perfectly with harmonies, all tied up in a neat little two minutes 20-second package. It’s a pretty perfect summary of just how quickly and hard Shit Present are able to make an impact on their listener.
Against the World! Makes the most of Cairn’s screaming potential. There’s a real passion to her voice whether she’s almost whispering over electroacoustic melodies or, in Against the World!’s case, belting out an emotional chorus of “cos I was looking for it too, they made it up that’s what they do”.
Misery + Disaster is another promising instalment from the supergroup who’ve quickly made a name for themselves as their new group. All eyes are now on the four piece and the LP that now looms on the horizon. How Shit Present will continue to maintain the momentum they’ve built on these last two no holds barred EP’s is anyone’s guess but we expect it to be loud, emotional and a great listen, just as their EP’s have.