I am sure that the members of The Shirks know more than three chords, but there’s not really much evidence of this on the band’s debut long player, and to be honest they manage to show that quite often there is no need to over-complicate music with anything like a B minor ninth or something equally non-required, to allow a band to effectively deliver the goods.
Hailing from Washington, DC, there is obviously a lengthy punk rock history that The Shirks are adding to, and in some respects there is no difference to what the Dischord bands were doing back in the early days i.e. sticking two fingers up to those wanting to tie them down to what’s being done now, but The Shirks seem to be extending those digits to the whole world. Such is their disregard for following ‘normal’ behaviour i.e. in this ‘modern age’ the band seem to actively eschew the more accepted ways of getting their name out there by deliberately not having much of a presence on the internet. Back to the music though, The Shirks manage to take that early primitive Dischord sound and regress it a few stages, to produce a really scuzzed up punk rock approach that makes bands such as the Teen Idles and S.O.A. sound positively overproduced.
“Motherhood of the Wolf” opens the record with aplomb, delivering all the aspects needed in a good song: meaty guitars, a short solo, crashing drums/cymbals and some bass to keep things moving along nicely. Top it off with some vocals that are the perfect pitch to stop the whole package from grating, and one sees/hears that The Shirks are a band on form; given the brevity of this record, the delivery is never tedious. Saying all that about the short songs, it’s two of the longer tracks on the album (“Dirty Teen Wolf” and “I Don’t Want To Work It”) which stand out for me as both show a bit more of the songwriting chops that The Shirks undoubtedly possess.
These longer songs are still far from epic length and it’s by keeping things nice and short that The Shirks are able to grab the listener’s attention with relative ease, as song after song races along at a fair pace. The major plus point across the eight songs, though, is that within the manic delivery lie a plethora of hooks and catchy tunes in which to get caught up, which raises the record from potentially being trashy and incomprehensible up to providing an eminently enjoyable romp.
If someone wants a meaningful comparison to The Shirks then maybe I’d start by saying they’re like a cross between The New Bomb Turks, Space Cookie and The Night Birds; well, something along those lines anyway but that should be enough to give you a starting point.