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Album Review: Shield Your Eyes - Theme From Kindness

'Theme From Kindness', the third album from London’s abstract merchants Shield Your Eyes is one of two things; the greatest album of the year or complete garbage, and the outcome is largely down to the listener’s musical preference. However, one thing 'Theme From Kindness' is definitely not, is an easy listen. There’s very little that is commercially acceptable about this album, but perhaps here lies its beauty.

Opening track, ‘I Took My Lead From You And Your Kindness’ serves as an interesting introduction to the album. It shares little in common in terms of sound with the rest of the album, but is just as awkward and angular as anything else on offer. The frenetic, off-time use of a number of instruments makes it sound like a trippy 1970’s kids television show. Luckily, Shield Your Eyes aren’t in the business of jingles, and the majority of the album fits the same kind of sound, jaunty art-rock. The fact that 'Theme From Kindness' was recorded over a single weekend in the bassist’s living room, should give you an idea of the production levels. However, you can’t help but feel that this is exactly the sound the band are going for. Guitars and vocals low in the mix, bass and drums high; are the standard equation for all of the songs. ‘Robinson Crusoe’ is a prime example of this. The drums are so loud in the mix, it makes it really hard to listen to, especially as Stef Ketteringham’s voice is so raw and strained. ’Ultra Serf’ and ‘I Don’t Know How You Do The Things You Do’ are of a similar ilk, all over the place and angular, yet in an unnerving way structured.

The instant reaction to these songs is to write them off as pretentious art-rockers, but there is more to them than this rough assessment. There are layers to the tracks on Theme From Kindness. Under the surface of ‘Olivers Wharf’ there is a dirty little punk ditty waiting to burst from it’s restraints and brief moments of ‘Too Little Has Been Good For The Soul’ are reminiscent of riffs on Converge’s ‘Dark Horse’. The laid back grooves of ‘Baby You Made A KX250 Out of Me’ provide the album with it’s standout track. It also happens to be the most instantly relatable of the tracks as well. On this track and this track alone, Ketteringham’s strained vocals do not seem to be in juxtaposition to the music.

This album will not be to everyone’s taste and 'Theme From Kindness' demands the listeners time. If you are looking for something that is fairly low commitment, don’t bother with this it will just reflect off you. If however you are willing to get involved and devote sometime to this album, you will reap the benefits.


'Theme From Kindness' by Shield Your Eyes is available now on Saddam Hussein Records.

Shield Your Eyes on MySpace

Dan Issitt

Alter The Press!