Review Summary: The best album you've never heard.
It's so frequently something of a disappointment when former band members embark on a new project. It's not that, for example, The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age aren't great bands, they're just not as good (in my opinion, at least) as At the Drive-In or Kyuss respectively. So it's always pleasing when a band gets a second bite at the cherry and doesn't disappoint.
Born from the ashes of Louisville post/math-rock band Rodan, Shipping News' 1997 debut 'Save Everything' sounds, in many respects, just as one might expect it to sound. A closer look, however, shows that this is more than just Rodan mk II.
Let's just get this out of the way first, though. It is impossible to listen to 'Save Everything' without being reminded either of Rodan's solitary LP 'Rusty' or, of course, Slint's 'Spiderland'. The marriage of a garage-rock guitar sound with a loose song structure and odd time-signatures, along with the arpeggiated build-ups that have defined post-rock, help form the sound of this album. But while the strengths of its illustrious forbears lied largely in finding beauty in dissonance, the finest moments on 'Save Everything' come when the band takes a somewhat more melodic route. In perhaps the standout track, the enchanting use of natural harmonics on 'All By Electricity' makes the guitar sound like a a twinkling star, underpinned by a wonderfully complementing bass line and the sparsest of drum beats. Another highlight is ten-minute album closer 'A True Lover's Knot', the second movement of which is a hypnotic intertwining of guitar, bass and drums. Don't worry though, it's not all sunshine and flowers, as the track reaches its climax in a math-rock maelstrom of clashing strings and cymbals.
At just under 40 minutes, 'Save Everything' does very well not to outstay its welcome, something which can happen all too easily within the genre. While it might not quite be the most unique or influential album that was released in the great decade that was the 1990s, it's certainly a criminally overlooked piece of work that deserves far more attention, and is very much worth hearing.