Benjamin Shaw – ‘Megadead’ album review

Benjamin Shaw Megadead new music review audio antihero

‘Megadead’ is the new album from now Melbourne-based polymath Benjamin Shaw. Released through Audio Antihero in the US and UK and Kirigirisu Records in Japan, it’s a concept album of sorts about a party where everyone is having a good time except you (as a teetotaller, that’s something I can associate with only too well)…

The Magnetic Fields meet Lemon Jelly on ‘megadead.party’, the album opener. It starts with incidental crowd chatter that has a focus on how this is ‘a party that everyone’s been looking forward to for weeks’ and how ‘they seem to be having a wonderful time’ (a quote that runs throughout the record) before evolving into a glitchy and experimental final 20 seconds. The synths continue on the alt-anthem title track. Clocking in at almost 7 minutes and catching the spirit of Public Service Broadcasting, it finishes with darkly disturbing snippets of a spoken-word quote reassuring Benjamin ‘It’s OK to go’…

Full of ambient and experimental noise, samples and fantastical piano, the post rock-inspired ‘Melanomates’ is a song about how hard it can be to keep your sadness hidden behind a brave face (‘Gonna smash this whole place up’), while ‘Push It Down’ is self-depreciating synth pop full of the heartbreak and dark humour you’d associate with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: ‘Stupid, boring piece of shit’; ‘Push it down, push it down, turn that frown upside down’. This distress at the state of the situation continues on ‘Terrible Feelings!’ (note the exclamation mark) as Benjamin reveals his true feelings about those he’s wound up with: ‘You’re all terrible people with terrible clothes, go away’.

Finishing the record is ‘Hole’, a swaying and melodic 5-minute piece full of fuzzy atmospherics and emotion as Benjamin gives you a glimpse into his anxieties: ‘I’ll dig me a hole and feel it with thinking’; ‘There’s a hole in my head with a whole lot of faeces. And I pray that you blow up and spray the whole world with TVs’; ‘I got half a mind to sleep forever’. Inspired by experimental troubadours like Gruff Rhys, it finishes with a quote from a child telling an adult some home truths before then descending into pure noise.

‘Megadead’ is a record full sadness and self-depreciation as Benjamin Shaw opens his heart about how he feels about his place in the world. It’s poignant and powerful but also laced with humorous takedowns of the world today.

Buy ‘Megadead’ from Audio Antihero’s Bandcamp here.

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