Shit Present – ‘What Still Gets Me’

By Tom Walsh

There’s a distinct feeling about opening an unwanted present. The sense of deflation that you hoped the contents would be something worthwhile, the anger that the recipient thought this would be a good idea or just the melancholic sense that no-one seems to understand you. All of it compounded with a breathy, half-hearted “thanks”.

These parallels are best avoided when naming your band Shit Present. Luckily for the Bristol-based “emo power pop” trio, they’ve managed to skate over that minefield. Formed from the remnants of Gnarwolves and Great Cynics, Shit Present started in strong style with their first two EPs – ‘Shit Present’ (2015) and Misery + Disaster (2016) – grappling tough topics of depression and anxiety, wrapping them up in brutal lyrics and lethal hooks.

Six years on – including three years of writer’s block – they present their debut LP, ‘What Still Gets Me’ and those intervening years have seen their landscape shift. Rather than picking up where the EPs left off, which carried the style and sound of bands such as Cayetana and Remember Sports, they beefed up the guitars, amped up production and got a little heavier.

‘What Still Gets Me’ is front person and songwriter Iona Cairns baring all. There are no pulled punches as she revisits the feelings of loneliness, confusion and anxiety but it is far from being a dark album. Of course, there are heavier subject matters such as dangerous men claiming to be anything but (title track ‘What Still Gets Me’), where she’s joined by Camp Cope’s Georgia McDonald which delivers a powerful call to arms.

In ‘Unravelling’, Cairns and guitarist Thom Weeks play conflicting voices in the same head in a riotous tale of confronting your demons. There is a prevailing sense of defiance throughout ‘What Still Gets Me’ as Cairns methodically paints a picture, telling the listener: whatever you’re up against, you can get through it.

Shit Present have also managed to step out of the scratchy DIY EP sound and created something bolder. Tracks such as ‘Beyond Tonight’ and ‘Fuck It’ provide instant hooks with snappy melodies backed up with delicious harmonies and huge choruses. There is the acoustic ballad of ‘Too Into It’, which talks of dealing with those friends whose insecurities are consuming them, while opener ‘Cram The Page’ is an ode to embracing your vulnerabilities.

The double header of ‘Ever After’ – a lovely kind of “fuck it” song where Cairns proclaims “I don’t believe in happy ever after / I don’t believe that it will all be fine / I don’t believe to look on the bright side / I don’t believe in it taking time – and ‘Talking About The Rain’ are great bookends for this record.

The latter is the true highlight of ‘What Still Gets Me’. Cairns croons “what’s the point in talking about anything / when you’ve made your mind up about what I bring” as she takes a cutting swipe at someone that’s put her down. It’s the kind of energy you summon where you’ve simply had enough and want to explode, and in an in-keeping style the track booms into screaming life, closing out the record with a fitting guitar solo.

It’s a poignant end to a record that wants to say “it’s okay to be angry”. For a band, there’s a lot to be said for taking a step back, having time to refresh and think about your next point of attack. In the case of Shit Present, it’s delivered a statement of a debut album.


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