Pure anticipation and excitement led up to this release. In 2019 I found a simple five-track EP in the CD section of the Chaska Goodwill. At the time I had no idea what pure gold I had picked up. The humble record I saved from the shelves was The Shackletons’ first lengthy release titled “The Horizon Lines EP.” Two years later, we have been graced with a full length, thirty-one-minute, twenty-one-second bottle of lightning.
This indie rock and blues trio showcases the true idea of “Minnesota sound:” a mix of midwest indie/folk and Toronto punk rock. Jay Gabler of 89.3 The Current calls them “Conor Oberst with a John Belushi attitude, fronting the Hold Steady,” a description I couldn’t agree with more. I find their sound incredibly enduring, not only as a local band, but as a group that knows and loves their own style and has no problems recreating it in all their tracks.
Comparing their early works to this new release really showcases the time and effort all three members have put into their musical careers as a whole. Colin on vocals and guitar, performs his heart out, improving technically and lyrically. Older brother Cameron on bass, and younger brother Evan on drums and vocal support also display crisp and more enticing instrumentals licks and skill.
This album as a whole feels much more polished and professional compared to the EP they released in 2016. The group even showcases a re-recorded version of “4AM,” a track they recorded for “The Horizon LInes EP.” The re-up of their popular track loses some of the dinky charm. As much as I love and miss Colin’s voice cracks and the edge of the potentially lower budget recording venue, this new version is full of energy and rich supporting vocals, a sound I’m sure they aimed for with the first recording.
I don’t think it would be a Mikey Album Review without noting the extraordinary flow pushing through the track listing. This album starts with a slow and bluesy track “Will I see You Tomorrow.” For me, this is the perfect start to the record, especially when the harder and very driven second track, “Hearts of Gold,” starts. This track is one of my favorites with its heartbreakingly infectious chorus and heavy instrumentals. If I had to pick a track to pull a new listener into listening to this Minneapolis group, this would be that track.
Other notable tracks include “Exactly What It Looks Like,” one of three singles released before the full album drop. This track, along with “Wall Socket” really got me up in my seat. The production is jam-packed with sound and gives the energy of a group that has been in the music industry for years. I have no doubt in my mind The Shackletons will be the next big group from Minneapolis. With the charming brother factor, criminally catchy choruses and sheer skill, Colin, Cameron and Evan might be your new favorite boy band. I give this album 4.4 Mikey heads out of 5.