Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
SHELF LIVES derekbrembner1999kandscape

Shelf Lives confront the crisis of masculinity on "All The Problems"

26 April 2023, 18:30 | Written by Ims Taylor

Electro-punk duo Shelf Lives are as chaotically composed as ever on "All The Problems", a sharp look at self-deprecation laced with venom, ahead of their new EP to be released this autumn.

It’s not quite clear whether or not Shelf Lives are sympathetic to the person they’re writing about on “All The Problems”, who seems to be grasping at unhealthy straws just to survive with little success. “He’s got all the problems and he keeps them all down in a phenomenal way”; the duo deliver the shot of sarcastic nihilism above the jagged instrumental that constitutes their pre-chorus with savage nonchalance. But when the actual chorus hits, they address their subject: “tell me something you like about yourself”, semi-challenging, semi-coaxing over a compulsive propellor of a guitar line.

Born between Toronto and Northampton, the now South London based two-piece are no stranger to a complex contradiction of sound, and their own is built around the house-party punk show vibe that brings together slick grooves with real, raw humanity. The rough intimacy we get to hear on “All The Problems” is a calling card for the pair, and you can only imagine it would be more vivid in the live show; the euphoria of a gig set against the life we’re all escaping from.

Vocalist Sabrina Di Giulio explains Shelf Lives’ musical rationale as “the ideas we’re fed versus the reality, and we try to incorporate that completely in our sound by talking about these hard topics in a digestible way.” "All The Problems" is no different, explicating the crisis of masculinity through their electro-punk pop sound.

“I think that’s why the songs work, because they have that juxtaposition between the lyrics and the sound,” adds Jonny Hillyard, the guitarist and producer. “I just want to flash in people's faces how fucked up shit is.”

“To be vague about it, “All The Problems” is a casual chat about the suppression of emotions, specifically among those who identify as males and what it could lead to as a result,” the pair expand, about the track's themes. “It goes through the motions of seeking a reason behind the resulting rage and offsets extreme, sometimes violent, acts with the world's passive and unsettling way of dealing with them. There's nothing casual about the topic and events itself, yet, socially we've reached a ridiculous, dangerous place where we feel like in order to survive we need to be. Essentially, so we can... "get on with our day".”

On their artistic mission statement to "bring punk back to the house party," Shelf Lives are certainly succeeding in nodding towards themes of societal collapse among their at times groovy, at times thrashing, beats.

"All The Problems" is out now. Find Shelf Lives on Instagram.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next