June 21, 2017

LP: ShitKid - Fish

ShitKid snarls and stuns on their first LP.

If music could sneer, the music from 24-year-old Åsa Söderqvist most surely would. A jutted-out jaw and a cackling smile is exactly how I imagine the personification of Shitkid's Fish. It’s an album that snarls and jabs with sonic stipulations while flowering and pampering with a hearty pop flesh. It seems to give body to the labels of “alternative pop” or “noise pop” all on its own, demanding precise attention to its stubborn melodies and its unwavering attitude. Like a frustrated and fed-up Kevin Barnes, Söderqvist doesn’t shy away from using playful, simple pop songs to contrast her discomforting tunes. 

The “singles” offered up by the amorphous record offer glimpses of rock’n’roll, with a tough-as-nails riff heralding the standout “Alright” and a power-chord melody stripping back throughout “On a Saturday Night at Home.” Together with these messes of guitars, one of the catchiest and most prominent elements of each song remains the vocals. Perfectly fuzzy with just the right tinny edge, Söderqvist is able to swing back and forth between high-end reverb and gritty, snarling mutters. The effect is incredibly reminiscent of the most magical moments from Brooklyn’s Tonstartssbandht, pairing the feeling of euphoric gospel with the fuzz and distortion of garage-based tiny pop bands. The effect can be rather astounding as much as it can be rather overwhelming. Most, if not all the songs have mostly elements that feel concretely connected to the “straight-to-tape” approach, and it gives many of Söderqvist’s more dynamic tendencies a chance to feel close to the edge, her songs teetering over the possibility of total chaos. 

Sardonic as it oftentimes may be, Söderqvist is able to offer up quite a bit of humor on such a short runtime. Less often through lyrics, and more often through her approach, she turns a laughing eye towards these dark bouts of existential dread. The goofy album cover posters Söderqvist as a Swedish caricature staring out from a '50s corporate advertisement, blanched with a horrifically fake smile. A ditty from what sounds like a dirty kazoo decorates a track in which she postulates the mundane arguments that will someday ruin a relationship. The album ends on a track that sounds as if it came from an instantly-redacted children’s cartoon. Söderqvist certainly has come a long way from naming tracks “Poop,” “666,” “Poobrain,” and “Poop 2” all on one record, but her excellent failure to ever give one single fuck has carried through now as much as ever. Despite her honest-to-god punk efficiency at brushing off expectations and labels, Söderqvist can’t escape the true fact of her excellent pop craftsmanship. “Tropics” captures a short but sweet whimsy with marksman accuracy, meandering drum loops and far-away guitars around Söderqvist’s undeniably catchy doo-wopping. 

And perhaps the album’s most gut-wrenching moment comes right off the bat, with Söderqvist baring herself more than ever on “Never Seen A Girl Like Me.” It’s a crooning, crying song almost desert of much more than a simple repetitive musing, but it captures the essence of the record perfectly. “Baby are you out of your mind? / You’ve never seen a girl like me,” is a statement that track after track, Fish proves should be taken at face value, devoid of grains of salt or sugar coating. It’s this rawness of angry pain that, like the first record from Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius, turns her pop music inside out, guts and all. Söderqvist doesn’t completely open the doors of her world of dread and frustration, but her songs act as provocative and moving notes, passed hand-to-hand under the doors of her unique character.


Listen to ShitKid on bandcamp.


Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl or online at elifosl.com.