The four-piece from London are completed by Robert Eyres (Synth/Guitar), Chris Hopkins (Bass/Synth/Samples) and Joe Fergey (Drums). Born from the ashes of their former bands, the group met with a desire to create something that would feel new for each of them and audibly take its own course. The result is a nervous propulsion of bass lines, twitchy guitars that jolt and jerk and tack sharp drums, overridden by screeching vocal slurs and sampled television. Kate’s singing is a unique embrace of flights of atonal fancy, head-first repetition and ecstatic frenzy. Opinion-dividing arguably, but singular in making Shake Chain dauntingly brilliant.
Shake Chain’s debut album ‘Snake Chain’ was recorded in the New Forest’s Chuckalumba Studios early in 2022, a tranquil setting only slightly skewed by the intense extratropical cyclone of storm Eunice and the ghosts of the dopethrone. Kate likens the album to “crying in a Catholic sex dungeon with Eastenders on”, perhaps only half tongue in cheek given the soapy dramatics of opening track ‘Stace’. ‘RU’ is a stompy triumph of ad lib monotony, heavy and wonky, its vocal slowly unwinding into residual sense. Shake Chain’s songs are populated with cowboys, cherry-pickers, content-addicts, private investments, a careless driver called Mike, architects and by much lamentation at the state of our confusing existence. This last point underlined in luminous marker pen with slow-building vortex ‘Highly Conceptual’ and whispered closer ‘Duck’.
‘Copy Me’ races along with radiant headbangs of dynamic abandon, one part tumble, two parts pummel, “hold your breath til something changes” commands Kate whilst everything of course is in hammering flux. ‘Second Home’ is similarly coruscating yet buoyant, whilst ‘Arthur’ feels like it could tear inside in two amid sobbing wails and the twining of its disparate parts. Throughout all the unhinged freakouts, found sounds and blasting rhythms though is Kate’s questioning, resilient presence, anchoring everything. On bruising creeper ‘Birthday’ she asks most tellingly “Do we speak language or does language speak us? Is there a mouth in the middle of the desert? Do you ask how cups are designed? Would you say yes when you really mean I don’t know”? Shake Chain are cathartic and absurd, humorous and deadly serious yet always inspired. It’s this tightrope walk which makes their album such a thrilling, vital listen.