Parsnip / The Shifters "Hip Blister" LP
Parsnip: Counterfeit, Dailybreader, Hip Blister
The Shifters: Photo Op, Conscript, Righteous Harmonious Fists
Two of modern Melbourne’s finest, paired together on one split LP! Parsnip’s technicolor mod-pop has a wide-eyed wonder similar to the Television Personalities and their Whaam! Records cohort, delivered in a freewheeling rush of warbling organ and sugar-spun harmonies. On “Counterfeit” and “Dailybreader,” they draw equal inspiration from ‘60s sunshine psychedelia and the smudged shambolic jangle of the C86 movement, before capping off their side of the record with a tambourine-bashed, Girls in the Garage-styled hipshaker called “Hip Blister” that’s as wildly raucous as anything that the Pandoras or Thee Headcoatees ever put to tape. On the flip, the Shifters offer up three brilliant tracks of their own, skirting the shaky line between wiry post-punk repetition and off-kilter pop scrawl. Comparisons to the early work of the Fall have been a little inevitable—the cryptically sardonic lyrical narratives, the rhythmic tunnel vision, the scratchy sparseness and occasional lackadaisical twang, all constantly on the verge of collapse—but despite those psychic parallels, the Shifters are never engaging in some sort of tired historical reenactment. The paranoid and tightly-wound slowburner “Conscript” is the closest that the group get to Mark E. territory here, while “Photo Op” touches on raw, ramshackle garage stomp in the Back From the Grave tradition, and “Righteous Harmonious Fists” hits twin inspirations of no-fidelity UK DIY messthetics and the skewed pop experiments of Flying Nun’s more eccentric 1980s wing. Two really strong sides that make for an all-around killer LP—if you’ve yet to have had a chance to fall for the charms of Parsnip and the Shifters on their own, now is the time.