London Highbury Garage

If it's an argument against the Darwinist theory of evolution you're after as opposed to, oh, deathless rock thrills, then a [B]Shed 7[/B] retrospective is probably the very thing you need....

If it’s an argument against the Darwinist theory of evolution you’re after as opposed to, oh, deathless rock thrills, then a Shed 7 retrospective is probably the very thing you need. Respectably conventional in every other aspect, ‘Going For Gold’ is a sure way for those of a flat-earth disposition to disprove that whole troublesome Survival Of The Fittest idea.

Six years, three albums, and still Shed 7 trundle on: a singer who sounds like he’s chewing Crimplene, an easy-hit target painted on each of their heads, songs apparently first mauled, then rejected by every top-of-the-league band. Never mind that they make The Bluetones look like a lost Mardi Gras weekend, that they seemingly treat songwriting like assembling flat-pack shelving, that it’s hard to imagine anyone clutching their competent records as a blueprint for living – the Sheds (ah, the glamour) have still lingered longer than many of their superiors.

While that strangely British Battersea Dogs’ Home mentality must play a role – if it has a missing tail, or interesting fur condition, the “ahh” factor increases – it can’t hurt that they pose absolutely no threat.

The spirited ‘Barbarism Begins At Home’ skirl of debut single ‘Mark’ shows how firmly they set themselves in the post-Smiths, post-Roses tradition, yet failed on their Homebase shopping list of glue, plywood, non-specific angst and tight Britpop T-shirts to include anything resembling an imaginative [I]frisson[/I].

Listening to these 15 songs together – yes, it’s surprising how many you know, but yes, it’s surprising how many supermarket ads you remember – what’s most endearing is the sense that the band are well aware of the need to tart up their sturdy bellow. The brass on ‘Going For Gold’ and ‘Devil In Your Shoes’, the strings melting like margarine over the new and maudlin ‘High Hopes’, the transparent beats of ‘The Heroes’ and unfortunate new track ‘Disco Down’, the Blur-y yelping of ‘She Left Me On Friday’; they might be trying, but it’s as likely to cast them as sonic adventurers as false eyelashes would turn Rick Witter into Mae West.

So they might not want to make that voyage, probably declaring they just, like, write what they feel for people just like them, but it’s a flat ambition borne out in that depressing litany of titles. ‘Getting Better’. ‘Chasing Rainbows’. ‘On Standby’. Forever. This is a flooded engine of a record; the map spread out on the dashboard for a journey never made.