Shriekback – “Tench” (1982)

Tench was the first album by the UK’s Shriekback, a six-song record that falls into the gray area between being an EP or a LP. I first stumbled onto the band due to its inclusion in the brilliant Sherwood at the Controls, Vol. 1: 1979-1984 that came out last year, and a few nights after hearing them for the first time ran across copies of a couple of their albums at a record store in, of all places, Oklahoma City. I’ve kept my eyes peeled ever since for any more of their early stuff, so I was quite pleased when I found Tench in the New Arrivals bin at Amoeba Music the other day. It was a no-brainer.

These songs are a bit of trip even without the Adrian Sherwood treatment. “Sexthinkone” is probably the most well known song on Tench, with it’s funky bass line and deep, melancholy vocals, but for my money I prefer songs like “All the Greek Boys (Do the Handwalk),” which is like some kind of post-punkish, slowed down Pet Shop Boys tune, all moody and echoey and dark. The pace picks up a bit with the B side opener “Accretions” (♠) with it’s dance-floor-ready bass, and the bass line stays funky as hell on the more restrained “Mothloop.” It wraps up with the odd “Here Comes My Hand-Clap” which feels more like a concept for a song as opposed to a completed work, but there it is, leaving you wondering.

(♠) Note that the track order is different depending on which version of this record you have. The US and French versions have the sides flip-flopped compared to the UK and Dutch releases, so what is side A on the UK release is side B on the US.