‘Wednesday Morning, Bootle Strand’ is the second album from Shellsuit, a band made up of Ed Doherty and Lee Scanlan from Walton Vale. It’s not a recent release, but was actually released in May 2015 on Higuera Records, but they’ve only just come to the attention of this music lover after a recent local gig.
The scouse duo have cited Simon and Garfunkel, the Velvet Underground and even The Smiths as influences for this set of tunes, and you can hear resemblances to all three throughout the album. It’s a another brilliant example of British music and personality at its finest, and driest. Similar to The Smiths and Morrissey, the lyrics are blunt and obvious and they don’t mind causing offence, but they are backed by such lovely melodies that I’m not sure the people who would find the remarks insulting would even notice.
The album begins with a bittersweet, upbeat track called ‘Glamour’. It sets the tone for the rest of the record with its folk style and acoustic sound. It’s the perfect backdrop to the contrasting observational lyrics that follow about a relationship gone stale, and the glamour fading, told along side some boppy ‘ba-da-ba-daaas’. It springs to mind images of sorry housewives and their inattentive husbands; stuck and bored and far away from where it all began. Track 3, ‘Coleen’s Belt’, shares the same melancholic reflectiveness, with stark scenes of buses and council estates sung in a voice soft enough to lull you to sleep. All the while the song title is actually referencing Coleen Rooney, and the label of ‘council estate girl’ that she’ll never shake off.
It seems as though the perspective of the album is from an insider of these places, taking a step back and looking at his own habitat, and not sugar coating what he’s seeing. The album is very honest and reveals its truths without you realising. ‘Shaky Half Hour’ has you dancing about to it, barely noticing the sad subject matter of the common over-consumption of alcohol in the everyday masses.
The guitar playing and picking throughout is intricate and beautifully done. The beginning of ‘Level Sands’ could easily be mistaken for an american country classic, up until the gentle words begin, tinged with the Liverpool accent, bringing you to another reality. A harmonica on some of the tracks give a real bluesy vibe which works really well. I really enjoyed the whole album, and was pleasantly surprised at it’s mellowness which I wasn’t expecting at all after my first introduction to this band was seeing their raucous live show in The Golden Eagle in Chester on 21/01/2017.
They came across as a politically charged electro duo, with not an instrument in sight except for some aggressively played maracas. One of the songs that stood out most in that performance, of which I don’t even know the name, was at first portrayed as a sad story of children being sent away to school, until the words ‘Eaton’ and ‘red briefcase’ were sung and suddenly the mention of a ‘George’ and ‘David’ all made hilarious sense. Another brilliant tune revolved around the mundane working world, talking about ‘Sandra with her complex Tupperware’, and the fantastic resounding phrase of ‘work doesn’t work for me’, and how it’s full of ‘joyless’, ‘unhelpful humans’. Cracking stuff.
I got the album at their gig which spurred me on to write this and I’m so glad I did; they’ve definitely secured their place on my iPod. They’ve got a Facebook page and a website www.shellsuit.co.uk. It doesn’t look like there is much in the way of upcoming events, but I’d give their page a like and if you’re in the North West keep your ears to the ground about future gigs. The album is available to buy from all the usual places too.