On Shellac's latest release, Excellent Italian Greyhound, the band derides everything from our nation's current political situation ("Elephant") to the very nature of preparedness ("Be Prepared"). In typical Shellac form, however, it's never clear whether Greyhound has a message or the album is just one elaborate joke.
Not much has changed with the trio's intense post-punk instrumentation: Steve Albini's guitar maintains its savage crunch. Todd Trainer's drumming carries meandering tempos and time signatures with booming crispness. And Bob Weston's basslines chug along. That said, the new album sounds more thrown together than previous releases. "Genuine Lullabelle," for example, borders on some of the silliest territory Shellac has covered. Halfway in, instruments drop out and Albini does his best Sinatra impression, crooning, "Everybody party . . . party hard," before going into some out-of-nowhere lines about a woman who "really knows her way around the cock." "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?"
Shellac's latest release pushes the limits of what any non-fan would deem listenable. Then again, maybe that's the point.