Shudder to Think – Pony Express Record

Shudder to Think – Pony Express Record 


Released: September 13, 1994
Genre: Post-Hardcore/Experimental Rock/Indie Rock
Label: Epic

Shudder to Think

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Number Of Tracks: 13

PONY EXPRESS RECORD is a 1994 album by the Washington, D.C.-based post-hardcore group Shudder to Think.

Sound: Shudder to Think are a post-hardcore band who emerged from the DC hardcore scene in the mid-1980s and were one of the two bands (other being Jawbox) to famously leave Dischord Records for a major label.  Although taking their influence from hardcore punk and alternative rock their music has a pop twist which is quite evident on their major label debut Pony Express Record.

However despite having a clean poppy sound the album is not what could be described as “easy listening”.  The songs on the album jump around abruptly which on your first listen and subsequent listens can take you by total surprise as the song goes in a total different direction than it was going originally.  This is thanks to the number of different time signatures utilised notably in track 5, Earthquakes come Home. 

Another thing to mention is that although being a well produced and a tight sounding record there is a lot of use of dissonance/dissonant chords in the songs and twisted melodies which is what sells the record for me.  It approaches the pop sound from a total different direction which sounds abrasive to the ear but doesn’t put you off. Overall I would give it a 9/10 for sound.

Lyrics and Singing: One of the first things than struck me about this record was the lyrics and the singer’s vocal ability.  Craig Wedren the bands guitarist/vocalist is a phenomenal singer.  I would compare him to the style of Jeff Buckley who in fact did some work with the band for the film First Love, Last Rites.  However the comparison to Buckley is not totally fitting.  In some of the songs Wedren’s singing can become quite intense where he starts almost shouting.  The lyrics are quite intriguing, thought provoking and even clever and funny in places.  From the slightly morbid lyrics in the opening track Hit Liquor“Case of her bones are softer than loose meat” to the funny/weird lyrics in Gang of $ “One honey donut and your lips are stuck to the seat” and his later wailing of “the ghost of my mom is in the telephone”.  The topics and lyrics vary greatly throughout the record my personal favourites being from X-French T-Shirt – “I saw you screaming at the top floor, big window crash, I’m deaf” and Kissi Penny’s“Who’s in distress? Some damsel with a canceled subscription to an ambulance”.  Overall the lyrics and vocals are fantastic. 10/10

Impression: If I was to put it generally, I would say that Shudder to Think sounds like a more abrasive Jeff Buckley.  There aren’t really many bands out there like them.  Maybe Jawbox or Fugazi to an extent, but they lack the poppy/clean sound that Shudder to Think provide.  To me this is a perfect record and I would even go as far to say this is one of the best albums of the 90s.  I would put it up there with Pearl Jam’s Ten, Soundgarden’s Superunknown and many other albums.  I would urge people to go out and buy this exceptional album you will not regret it!
Overall 9.7/10.

 

Reviewed by Joshua Chisim

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