The last time Shed Seven released new material was May 2001. It was a strange experience for all concerned. The Pistols-esque single 'If The Music Don't Move Yer' was an affirmation of what it was to be Shed Seven, overlooked. For fans, it was an emboldening sense of defiance, but alas, Nu-Metal was the next big thing and they drifted away. Sixteen years later, the maracas are shaking and the brass is booming once more but, can 'Instant Pleasures' heal those wounds?
Album opener 'Room In my House', regenerates the swagger of 1996's 'Maximum High'. There is however, more distinctiveness to their sound this time round. Everything is given its space on this 'Love Spreads' meets soul music banger. In the pantheon of great comeback singles, this is up there with 'Ten Story Love Song', 'Nothing Lasts Forever' and 'Public Image'.
For the most part, 'Instant Pleasures' has the immediacy of 'Maximum High' and the pop sensibilities of 'Let It Ride'. The infectious riffs of 'Victoria' conjure images of drunk arms flailing and blurting “I fucking love you” into a best friends ear. 'Butterfly On Th Wheel', the blueprint for so many successful indie bands of the past decade (The Killers, Catfish & The Bottleman, and Circa Waves). The difference between them, Rick Witter. The way he sings 'but I'm over you now / take a look at how it feels” isn't a soppy tactic to illicit meaning. Witter's delivery imbues honesty and dishonesty in the same breath, its this sense of confusion around a past loved one which makes it that much more sincere. 'Nothing To Live Down' has so much melody and big key changes in, you'd be forgiven in thinking that Noel had written this (minus the scissors of course). For every chord cul de sac you think its entering, Witter lifts them out, followed by Paul Banks and Joe Johnson firing riffs and solo magic.
There is another side to this album though, the one of middle age wisdom. Thankfully, the lyrics steer clear of beige trousers and bank holiday trips to Homebase. 'It's Not Easy', a song for anyone the wrong side of 30 questioning life who doesn't accept 42 as the answer. The spirit of 'Chasing Rainbows' oozes out 'Better Days', a swooning tale of amendment.
Wounds? What wounds? This is as triumphant a return as any Shed Seven fan could have dreamed of. Big choruses, great solos, and catchy riffs, its like sixteen years never happened. Better still, its all on their own terms. See you all at Shedcember!