There are still skid-marks on my floor, and a man-sized hole in the wall through which I crashed backwards a week ago when, without warning, the Shakey Rays and their début came home to stay. And an ill-mannered, snotty dolly-bird of a début she is too, drapes her legs over the end of the sofa, smokes on the toilet and her clothes are a state, but she knows how to sweet-talk and makes big, dreamy loved-up eyes, and I fall for that every single time.
This is my new best friend, my partner-in-crime. I want to cause trouble now, with this skanky, gorgeous thing hanging on my arm. This is the third time in a row Chennai’s thrown one of these up, against all hope and common sense, this time in garage-band-and-angel-voice form, a skronking, swinging great-white-wonder of a record; makes me want to bounce from chord to happy seventh chord in my shorts, keeping the neighbours up, pushing swarms of arse-rockers up against the wall and having this twang at them till they all give up and beg forgiveness for their lives of wretched excess.
Every time I get bucked off one of their snap-and-crackle grooves over into yet another tumbling featherbed chorus, it feels like bursting through the clouds up into sunshine; I want this around with me all my life, I want this on in the car so I get to weave dopily around the roads spreading panic and alarm amongst the citizenry, babbling about things being beautiful and hard to understand, playing Paul Mc air-bass when I ought to be steering; ten tracks of goodness in thirty-two minutes, not a dud in sight, good fucking lord, where did this come from?
This band do everything that’s good in this world in one muddy outbreak that sounds very nearly played live all the way through, like a basement gig you’re hearing through slightly tipsy ears, but you’re feeling pretty wild anyway, so who cares. It’s full of taut electric guitars which sound like the boys coaxing notes out of a wire fence, slink-merchant R&B bass-playing and deft drums which have muscles tapping time in me I didn’t know existed. But that’s the easy bit. What makes them not a good band, but a best band, is this: they write songs that aren’t so much songs as fully fledged personalities, with their own eccentricities and tics and world-views, each one a whole unto itself. The fact that one particularly strikingly pretty piece of joy also shares something of its title with my favourite song in the whole world is my own little treasure, a little extra I got out of the record, as if the rest of it wasn’t enough.
The Shakey Rays will be reincarnated as rats; cosmic law dictates that we have to work hard to achieve salvation; they’ve gone and fucked with it instead and opened up this little short-cut from here straight to bliss. I don’t believe for a minute their gods and the fates that govern them will let them off lightly.