1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – Shihad’s Beautiful Machine


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#44: Shihad – Beautiful Machine (2008)

MATT KELLY finally finds a Kiwi group to name and shame, and he reckons that this is easily the Wellington band’s worst record.

Deciding that the hyper aggro direction of 2006’s Love Is The New Hate wasn’t where it’s at, the band did a hard pivot in the other direction with a morass of meek, mild-mannered, milquetoast music that Coldplay wouldn’t record as Shihad’s midlife identity crisis continues on this, their worst album.

Yep – I think it’s worse than Pacifier. Corny as that was, it had some nice crunchy production and great hooks.

Beautiful Machine, however, is tepid, limp millennial pop. You know you’re in trouble as soon as the falsetto “Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo’s fire up at the beginning of ‘Rule The World’.

Beautiful Machine is offensively pleasant and contains multiple worst-Shihad-song-ever candidates. The insipid, weightless soft rock of ‘Vampires’ will have anyone who bought Churn curling up on the floor and wanting to die. The stripped-back ‘Waiting Round For God’ is intolerably sappy and goes on forever, and the album really dives off a cliff in the back half with a stretch of songs that are all self-seriousness and unearned profundity with no hooks and no attitude.

‘Eliza’ may be the best example, as Toogood drones on over squeaky clean production that robs drummer Tom Larkin of all personality and power. It’s such a struggle to get through the final two songs. First, there’s the sub-Owl City nothingness of ‘When You Coming Home’ and as lead-footed closer ‘The Prophet’ plays, time itself seems to stop.I wouldn’t say there’s absolutely nothing good here – the post-punk rhythms and big catchy chorus of ‘One Will Hear The Other’ make for a decent single, and on the title track the band make the modern pop production work as they perform with more passion. Outside of those two though, Beautiful Machine is for completists only.

Garbage artwork too.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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