Michael Head, leader of Liverpool’s early 1980s alt-pop hopefuls The Pale Fountains, formed Shack with his brother John in the late ’80s. After a run of bad luck with a studio fire in 1991 and a record co. bankruptcy, they almost called it quits. Shack’s music lacked the Fountains’ frantic tunefulness, but Michael’s impatient vocals and John’s jittery guitar work still had enough emotional urgency to catch the attention of the late Arthur Lee, who hired the Heads in the ’90s to fill out his revived version of ’60s psychedelic standard-bearers Love.
Shack’s new album is mostly electric folk rock, but electric folk rock that’s been whipped into big howling maelstroms of feeling. John’s songs are about druids and the sea, while Michael’s are more prosaic and personal, celebrating one girl who spikes her guests’ tea with LSD (“I think she’s just messing around”) and another who asks him to “tie me down.”
The spirit of the ’60s is alive not so much in the album’s musical and lyrical trappings, but in the brothers’ belief that art is all about possibilities.