Trouser Press (TP89) / September 1983
WHO: Carl Marsh (guitars/vocals), Barry Andrews (organ/vocals), Dave Allen (bass)
HOW: In mid-1982, Dave Allen was casting about for musicians after leaving the Gang of Four. He found XTC/League of Gentlemen vet Barry Andrews and ex-Out on Blue Six-er Carl Marsh to be kindred spirits. Shriekback began as a sextet with drummer Brian Nevill, singer Linda Burns, and manager Linda Nevill, but halved during the Tench sessions, leaving the current self-contained trio. Last November they added drummer Martyn Barker and percussionist Pedro Ortiz for gigs.
WHY: Shriekback generates danceable tension through interaction of hot (bass/Linn drum machine bottom) and cool (chanted, cerebral lyrics and droning melodies). Andrews in particular gets incredible mileage out of simple sustained organ chords. The band’s songwriting methods are unorthodox at best: going into the studio with little more than some drum machine patterns, Shriekback emerged 19 days later with the finished Care album. Tunes range from deviant pop-funk ("Lined Up," with a vocal assist from Kirsty MacColl) to Enoic ambient ("Hapax Legomena").
DAVE ALLEN: "Whatever people get from [the music] is what’s right for them. And that’s fine with me. We’re not in a position to say, ‘Some are dance, some are weird, some are this, some are that.’ It’s really just whatever people experience from them."
By Robert Payes