shallow: high flyin’ kid stuff (1997)

ShallowImagine a little girl in a technicolor field having a grand old time flying a kite in a purple sky. On closer inspection, however, you realize it’s not a kite, but a TV set. Hmmm, what on earth does this mean? Is the CD artwork an ironic statement on today’s video game obsessed youth, or is it merely an observation that the electronic age has brought us loads and loads of fun, including, in the present case of Shallow, some truly rambunctious and festive music? Well, I seem to have provided the answer there as to what this album is all about, so let’s go run barefoot through this field. First there’s the voice. Julie Shields is from the school of Allison Shaw (Cranes) and Virginia Astley-like little girl vocals. I mean, Julie could be 10 years old for all I know, if it weren’t for the press photos, and I know it rubs some people the wrong way. But if you know me, you know I can’t get enough of Ms. Astley and her sweet, lilting style, so Shallow is a welcome addition. After receiving their previous releases with merely lukewarm enthusiasm, I was delighted to see such growth on this album. A number of tracks are just plain classic: “Missle Command” frolics like there is no tomorrow, and “Straight Away” sing-songs its way into the pleasure center of your brain in a very kid-like manner. Lots of frills and an unusual repetitive rumble keeping time in the background provide some of the more charming and quirky elements infusing the album. The periodic explosions of heavy jamming in “Light Saber and the Video Game God” are delightfully brisk and unexpected. Saving the best for last, though, they give us “King of the Wide Eyed Girls” which is full of little noise fills and eerily laced with guitar/keyboard sirens, sort of a marriage of The Swirlies’ “Sunn” and Disco Inferno’s “Footprints In Snow.” Shallow really developed into something here on their third release. They did one more, the hard to find Jumping Away From Something Exploding, before calling it a day. 4 – waterviola

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