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Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch and Go)

On Shellac's latest release, Excellent Italian Greyhound, the band derides everything from our current national political situation ("Elephant") to the very nature of preparedness ("Be Prepared"). In typical Shellac form, however, it's never clear if Greyhound has a message or if the album is just one elaborate joke. Luckily for Shellac fans, not much has changed with the band's intense post-punk instrumentation: Steve Albini's guitar holds its savage treble crunch. Todd Trainer's drumming carries meandering tempos and time signatures with booming crispness, and Bob Weston's bass lines chug underneath it all. That said, the new album sounds more thrown together than previous releases. The ten-minute "Genuine Lullabelle," for example, borders on some of the silliest territory Shellac has covered. Halfway in, the instruments drop out and Albini does his best Sinatra impression, crooning, "Everybody hard" before going into some out-of-nowhere lines about a woman who "really knows her way around the cock." That's soon interrupted by a Movie Preview Guy sound-alike who says, "Well, what have we got here? A genuine Lulabelle." "The End of Radio" is another anomaly. It's Greyhound's extended opener, and the song features little more than Albini repeatedly screaming "Can you hear me now?" In total, Shellac's latest release often pushes the limits of what any non-fan would deem listenable. Then again, maybe that's the point.

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