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'When We Were Animals'   

-  Label: 'Wide Mouth Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '2nd June 2018'

Our Rating:
The past tense of the album title indicates that the songs chart life after overcoming addictions (to alcohol/drugs/loose women) but I reckon this claim should be taken with a generous pinch of salt.

The album was recorded in state of quasi homelessness and Shubaly hardly sounds like a character whose word you can trust. The one cover is of Little Feat's Willin, a song written by Lowell George, an artist who hardly stands as an ideal role model for surviving self excess.

Shubaly declares in one song that he is Never Drinking Again but this is a man who once wrote an ode to selfishness called 'Fuck Self Control' on the album Coward's Path (2015) which was allegedly made after he quit the bottle.

Other previous LP releases carry self explanatory titles like 'How To Make A Bad Situation Worse' (2014) and 'Alcoholica' (2016).

On the one hand, Shubaly identifies himself as "a recovering misogynist working hard to support feminism" but then he sings "I cannot change, I will not evolve" (Last Of My Kind).

Of course, lines like these could be intended as heavily ironic and given that the humor is obviously of the pitch black variety it would be disingenuous to read too much into the lyrics.

For example, on Forget About Me he sings "I don't want to be adored, I want to be ignored" which doesn't quite square with the fact that he's getting a fair amount of mileage out of his hard-living life.

Not only are all his songs autobiographical but he's also published a series of mini memoirs via Amazon Kindle Singles and runs a writing workshop in Yale. This is not the behavior of someone content to live a quiet, anonymous life.

The overload of melancholy melodrama and paranoid pessimism includes duets with four different female vocalists which does at least help to take the edge off Shubaly's growly, egocentric baritone.

Old habits die hard, I guess, and the overriding impression, backed up by the moody cover photo, is that Mishka Shubaly is an unreliable narrator who is more than happy to cultivate an image as someone who is mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Mishka Shubaly's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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SHUBALY, MISHKA - When We Were Animals