Sh! The Octopus - The Carrot Chase (Cover Artwork)

Sh! The Octopus

The Carrot Chase (2007)


Everyone in Sh! The Octopus is kind of selfish. Each member wants all ears on them, they want reviews to discuss their instrumental prowess and they want people to hum their parts, and it kind of sucks. The result is a record with instruments banging up against one another as they fight for some kind of strange supremacy. No one in Sh! seems to know how to take a backseat while a hook gently works its way into a listener's mind or how to tone down during another member's lead. This is all made stranger by the fact that this is a pop band, not some prog-obsessed, jam-oriented clusterfuck, but a pop band.

After a "we figured out some recording tricks and want people to think we are ‘artistic'" opening track that features some samples of a summer night and some backwards loops, the band come tromping in with "Flaking Friends." Vocalist Randy Bishop does his best Black Francis over a charming bit of acoustic-flavored pop, but more often than not the instruments in the background leave no breathing room, instead smashing into each other with complete disregard for anything but their own volume. A drum beat that is a little too "happening" smacks into a guitar lead that gets hard to hear because of a screaming harmonica that can't manage to move as fast as the bassline. A song that starts with such great potential eventually devolves into the aural equivalent of a group of five nieces and nephews fighting for attention amongst their older relatives.

This problem continues over the course of the album, causing wonderful melodies to be lost behind an explosion of sounds, or a simple intro part to be scattered into an incomprehensible mess. Maybe you could blame all of this on the mixing, but if the sparse and wonderfully Spoon-esque "If You Please" is any indication, Sh! just needs to strip their compositions down a bit.