Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but I get huge, moist anime eyes at the thought of the Shakamoto Investigation. I saw them supporting Drahla in May 2019 and at the time I said they were “full of fire and nervous energy and their whole set was a joy with standouts tracks being the earworm ‘Take It or Leave It and the Pied-Piper-on-speed drama of ‘Rats’”. Both of these tracks feature on Existential Bread with ‘Take Or Leave It’ kicking the album off in the same way a brace of tequila slammers hits your blood stream.
Yes, you can have the earnest scalpel of Gang of Four, the cool detachment of Home Counties or the visceral rage of DITZ but it’s good to have an angular-pop band that inject humour into their music; not surprising when you take your name from a Reeves & Mortimer sketch. The Shakamoto’s come across (live and on record) as the kind of fun guys that, if they took you out on the town, would leave you waking up three days later with your liver dragging you to A&E, no memory of the preceding 36 hours and the faint smell of hot sauce in your soul. I suspect a lot of this album was recorded live as it crackles with the kind of spiky energy they radiate on stage and I could easily get Thesauric about this and gorge myself on synonyms for electric, energetic, angular, rambunctious etc. until I got adjectivitus.
I can think of few albums that have a stronger set of opening tracks: ‘Take It or Leave It’, ‘Parmesan’, ‘Beheaded’ and ‘Rats’ come out of the gate like slathering greyhounds hungry for a motorised rabbit. ‘Parmesan’ and ‘Beheaded’ form a set with the title track and ‘Mr Williamson’ and these show a seam of modern vaudeville that runs through their music. It’s a sense of showmanship that allows for character voices and occasional bouts of cacophony. This is what would happen if you gave The Kinks or the Goons medical grade stimulants. It’s only on ‘Nails’ and ‘Hot Tamales’ that they seem to catch their breath and you get the call and response of low bass and gritty guitar playing off each other but then you get tracks like the terrifyingly nightmarish hoedown on ‘Loch Ness’.
If you like some right angles in your music, then Existential Bread should be on your must have list for 2021. This is music so energetic it must surely wear the battery down more quickly on whatever you play it on. Check back in December as I cannot believe this won’t be in my top albums of the year list. With bread in the title of your album, a love of baked good is strong* and there’s even a limited ‘Sourdough’ edition of the album which came with, amongst other things, their own branded hot sauce courtesy of Frank’s Chilli Shop in Leeds. Existential Bread proves that The Shakamoto Investigation are worthy of you parting with your dough and if you buy it in a shop make sure they pop your receipt in the baguette…I’ll get my coat.
Review by Paul F Cook
NB: On a complete tangent I put The Shakamoto Investigation into an anagram generator and these were my two favourite phrases: Hohokam novitiates tangiest & Kattie sheathing vasomotion
*I bought a CD from them at the Drahla gig and it came in a Cooplands Bakery paper bag with hole ripped to display the label (with some pastry flakes still in there). Genius!