Shellac
To All Trains


4.2
excellent

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
May 17th, 2024 | 80 replies


Release Date: 05/17/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I didn’t notice, your hair is really great.

Life has a way of bringing you down to earth sometimes, doesn’t it? What was supposed to be an elating celebration for this legendary band of sonic visionaries has turned into a bittersweet event. This is a band that has spent the last three decades dishing out some of the most stimulating, thought-provoking and experimental punk records on the market, fronted by one of the scene’s most revered punk legends, Steve Albini. Indeed, prior to To All Trains, all five Shellac albums have been incredibly consistent, challenging, idiosyncratic, and by design, made to separate the wheat from the chaff, using a stringent and endurance-testing approach to song structure. While it can be said the last few albums have had a large seven-year gap in between them, To All Trains is the longest we’ve had to wait for a new record, which was abruptly announced for a 17th May release on social media back in March. However, the anticipation for this record came with a heavy heart as, nine days before To All Trains was set to release, Steve Albini died suddenly of a heart attack in his studio. The funny thing is, given Albini’s unwaveringly humbling personality, coupled with his sardonic quips, the chances are he’d be sneering at this opening paragraph, telling me to shut up about him and start talking about Shellac’s new record, so let’s get on with it.

Without a single song to go off prior to To All Trains’ release, there was no way of gauging where the record was headed sonically. However, if we’re to go off their track record, the likelihood this was going to be poor was slim; and indeed, this presupposition was correct. To All Trains is yet another fantastic album that, like all their other albums, feels extremely familiar but has plenty of its own character to make it stand on its own. The most noticeable quality is the album’s brazen, no-nonsense attitude, which cuts out all the long-winded, repetitious songwriting in favour of a more succinct and varied experience. The grooves are as infectious and hypnotic as ever – from “WSOD” with Albini’s bouncy guitar licks and Weston’s descending bassline, to the noodle-y guitar and stomping rhythm section on “Tattoos”. Overall, the album is quintessential Shellac from start to finish, one that displays the band at their most concise and distinguished. Both Albini and Weston provide vocals for the album, and each vocalist provides a different emotional hue that works to its advantage: where Albini is snarky, quippy and holds a mighty weight behind his approach, Weston’s is much airier and benign, adding an additional layer of variety to the songwriting here.

I’d probably go as far to say this is their go-to album for newcomers looking to experience Shellac for the first time. It has all of the band’s greatest qualities: brimming with humour, loaded with distortion and attitude, and it has the usual spread of stink-faced grooves the band are so well known for. Yet, what makes this more accessible over the band’s other albums is its pithy songwriting. This is easily their most balanced record; with a very appealing pace, done in a way that condenses everything they’re known for into these digestible tracks. The longest a song gets on here is just under four-and-a-half-minutes, which is a far cry to the ten minute explorative loops of the past. And frankly, this gambit pays off immensely in the long run. The situation surrounding To All Trains is unfortunate to put it lightly, but at the very least Shellac have provided one last excellent entry for the fans before Albini’s untimely death. If you’ve never listened to the band before today, To All Trains essentially cherry picks all of the band’s greatest assets and crafts a lean, moreish and hard-hitting record both fans and newcomers are sure to lap up. The impressive part is the band don’t sacrifice an iota of their experimental nature or abrasive tendencies in testing out these new ideas. While the music doesn’t go above and beyond what we’ve heard from them already, the quality remains steadfast, making To All Trains one of the sharpest entries in their discography.




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user ratings (81)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Demon of the Fall
May 17th 2024


34877 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sounds good. Interested to dive into this. The tragically unintentional final piece of Albini's legacy.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2024


18363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Obviously, a hard RIP to the legend, Steve Albini.



Album slabs.

Hawks
May 17th 2024


90598 Comments


Guess its time for me to dive into this band. Gonna jam the debut right now.

gabba
May 17th 2024


1311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First listen wasn’t very memorable, but maybe it’s a grower.

Squiggly
May 17th 2024


1278 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

RIP to a great man. A great sendoff of an album that rawks. HARD.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2024


6758 Comments


what a final statement album too

kkarron
May 17th 2024


1429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I'm eager to listen to this, even if it'll be a lot more bittersweet now. Hope it's a great one on its own merits too.

kkarron
May 17th 2024


1429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, it's more Shellac, that's for sure.



Scabby the Rat is giving me serious Jesus Lizard vibes. Which reminds me of all them obituaries that tried to somehow "address" the Rapeman question.

fromrows
May 17th 2024


463 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Absolutely love it! Bit what a bittersweet listen, R.I.P Steve Albini.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2024


6758 Comments


well, Jesus Lizard was Albini's producer pet project

Pajolero
May 17th 2024


1443 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is Shellac boiled down to their most essential parts. No fat, no nonesense, just a tight 28-minute package of solid songwriting. What a note to go out on.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2024


18363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Nailed it pajolero

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2024


32073 Comments


Never got into Albini the musician, always knew Albini the producer or engineer like what he preferred to be called. Really sad he didn't see this released. RIP.

Great review gonz.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2024


18363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks Dewi. you definitely need to get on big black and shellac, though. It’s all delicious stuff.

onionbubs
May 17th 2024


21504 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is sick. i was missing out i only knew his production stuff. rip albini you king. gonna have to go through the other shellac stuff soon



i dont fear hell is a really chilling song to go out on

Pikazilla
May 17th 2024


30446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love trains

Cormano
May 17th 2024


4201 Comments


"Never got into Albini the musician, always knew Albini the producer or engineer like what he preferred to be called. "

same, about to change that tho

rip

BMDrummer
May 17th 2024


15154 Comments


this coming out posthumously gotta be one of the bigger gut punches i've ever had in music, rip to the prophet

MillionDead
May 17th 2024


5366 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These are some pretty fuckin phat grooves. Typical Shellac behavior.

XingKing
May 17th 2024


16181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What an impressive final record, even if it wasn't intended to be such.



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