I wrote about the debut cassette from Melbourne’s the SHIFTERS in the very first column that I did for MRR three years ago, which gives me all sorts of complicated and confusing feelings about the passage of time. And as evidence that sometimes it takes awhile for historical wrongs to be righted, that criminally limited tape is now finally available in its entirety as an LP on the new French label Future Folklore, following the two songs that resurfaced on the Creggan Shops 7” courtesy of It Takes Two back in 2016. The SHIFTERS’ stark, repetitive minimalism and shambolic charms always owed more than a little bit to the FALL in their early years, and revisiting the material from the cassette now after Mark E. Smith’s passing only reinforces the psychic connection between the lackadaisical post-punk twang in “Captain Hindsight” and the cracked melodies of something like the FALL’s “Your Heart Out” from the Dragnet era. “Creggan Shops” is as close to a contemporary successor to those brilliant first two MEKONS singles as I’ve come across, from the tense interplay between the melodica and a creaky violin, to the scritch-scratch guitar, to the nonchalantly harmonized dual vocals, all sounding like they’re perpetually on the verge of coming undone. There’s way more at play here than blatant UK DIY worship, though—it’s not a huge jump from the homespun, pastoral pop of ‘80s Australian DIY legends like the PARTICLES and the CANNANES to the SHIFTERS’ raggedly melodic “Colour Me In,” and “The American Attitude to the Law” sprawls into a lengthy VELVET UNDERGROUND-addled haze, if only LOU REED had written songs referencing “drinking cough syrup to fall asleep” instead of heroin.
-Erika Elizabeth, Futures & Pasts | MRR #421