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SHAMBOLICS ‘Dreams, Schemes & Young Teams’ Album Review: The most consistently infectious album you’re likely to come across this year

Believe it or not, Shambolics walked into the studio to record their debut album with barely enough material to do so. Yet you’d never guess it from listening to ‘Dreams, Schemes & Young Teams’, which reveals the band’s mind-blowing versatility and creativity. Despite their modest beginnings growing up skint in Scotland, they’ve proved themselves to be filthy rich in talent and story-tellying skills with lyrics that offer a glimpse into a wealth of relatable tales from the band’s formative years. Honestly, it’s mind-boggling to think that such a polished, thematically cohesive album could emerge from such bare-bones beginnings.

Whilst Shambolics frontman Darren Forbes insists there was no intention of this being a concept album, each song’s slice of everyday Scottish life had this reviewer reminiscing on Blur’s classic ’90s album ‘Parklife.’ Musically they may be worlds apart, but both albums grapple with the angst of everyday life, all the while brimming with that special blend of cynical sarcasm and wit that ensured ‘Parklife’ resonated so much more when it came out in ’95, guaranteeing its place as a seminal Britpop album.

This is particularly true in Shambolics’ most recent single ‘Universal Credit’- which started out as a tongue-in-cheek dig before becoming an unlikely hit, as well as ‘Influencer’ which calls out social media phoniness with infectious irony. Though cutting at times, the songs are never mean-spirited – just hilariously blunt. This trademark raw honesty is what particularly resonates with fans who appreciate the band telling it like it is, not how it “should” be.

Shambolics really earned a name from themselves from cranking out infectiously catchy tunes one after another and the album is further testament to this. Album opener ‘Attention’ lives up to its name, grabbing you by the balls and refusing to let go with Kyle Falconer lending his vocals to optimal effect, whilst ‘Everything’ and ‘Never Be Mine’ are both deceivingly upbeat stompers with lyrics that contrast the soaring melodies. Yet this clash between music and words only amplifies the songs’ appeal.

Things takes an energising turn on ‘Coming For You,’ as the band trades power pop for a grittier punk spirit. This chaotic stomp sets the stage for later tracks ‘Fight Inside,’ a standout for this reviewer that deftly balances jangly guitar hooks against vitriolic vocals and ‘If You Want It’ that maintains the momentum with its frantic, Blur ‘Song 2’-esque riffing.

Even the album’s mellower tracks still retain that same irresistible catchiness. The laid-back acoustics of ‘Daily Dosage’ sit comfortably alongside the melancholy ‘Filth and Scum’ whilst the latter, despite its provocative title, delivers an unexpectedly subdued sound. ‘Losing Your Mind’ is a stayer, gradually swelling and swelling into a sweeping hymn, whilst the ultimate anthem comes in the form of ‘Schemes’, a track that is sure to go down an absolute treat on the live circuit and which, curiously also happens to be the most positive and uplifting track on the album.

While the Shambolics formula isn’t necessarily rocket science – they’re not breaking any new ground per se – they’ve still only gone and delivered the most consistently infectious album you’re likely to come across this year; one that’s both achingly poignant and slyly amusing in equal measure. Despite exploring modern-day malaise for the most part, their ability to roast modern ills and hypocrisies with good-natured sarcasm and wit makes their music both relatable and wholesome, which is sure to have the album becoming a daily dosage for fans both old and new.

VERDICT:

Choose Shambolics. Choose ‘Dreams, Schemes & Young Teams’. Choose to pre-order the album here today. Choose red ned vinyl. Choose a CD. Choose a cassette. Choose a football shirt / album bundle and benefit the Kirkcaldy Foodbank while you’re at it.

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