Shortparis are a five-piece act from St Petersburg whose eclectic intensity has won them legions of fans, drawn as much to the band’s aloof and inscrutable aesthetic as their accomplished musicianship and astute instincts for song craft.
New track ‘Страшно’, meaning ‘Scary’, splices together the band’s tried-and-true four-to-the-floor betaking philosophy with an unsettling minor-key melodic motif that owes as much to classical song as it does to conventional dance music.
Front weirdo Nikolay is singing in Russian, so what he’s saying is anyone’s guess I’m afraid, but that doesn’t matter, because his voice is a thing of wonder.
And what really comes across amid the ululating synths, urgent fingersnaps and rapid-fire electric guitar work is, to put it bluntly, sex.
It’s a sexy record. Like a more grown up, less self-pitying Pet Shop Boys. In fetish gear. In a dungeon.
But less hate-fucky than, say, Nine Inch Nails.
Gigwise spoke to Shortparis earlier this year, and Nikolay expressed the all-too-Russian concern that his mode of expression wasn’t in keeping with traditional values.
“When [my father’ heard my very high voice, it was confusing for him. Not macho. Which is weird because these hard rock bands all sing really high at points too.”
Everybody in the band bar Nikolay grew up in the frozen wastes of Siberia, and that hard-bitten, icy realm really comes across in the production and spacial arrangements of the instruments.
Mercurial drummer Danila, who struck our scribe as being "all tattoos and lion-cub testosterone” enjoyed this theme of getting away from the harsh conditions from whence they sprang: “We all don’t need to escape from anything but ourselves.”
Their last album was out in 2017. It’s called Пасха, and, as our critic observed at the time, the collection of tunes “…resembles a band trying to smash five decades of music with an electrified cricket bat.”