Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come (1998) (1 Viewer)

pete

chronic procrastinator
Staff member
Since 1999
Joined
Nov 14, 1999
Threads
6,673
Messages
51,550
Location
iPanopticon
Website
thumped.com
I can understand why this wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but The Shape Of Punk To Come was one of those records that made anyone with even a passing interest in punk and hardcore in the mid 90s sit up and listen. With many of these album club selections I think it can be difficult to hear what it was that made something special at the time; there's a certain dilution of impact that comes from the inevitable imitators and from the influenced. Even so, this is still a powerful record today. I'm not going to do a song by song breakdown because that's not how I listen to this album. This is a document of a group of people at their collaborative, creative peak and to take it apart just feels wrong.

---------------

We put Refused on in Dublin on May 23rd 1998, just a month after this album was released and four months before they split up. Spending time with the band before and after they played the gig (an all ages afternoon show in McGrath's (?) on O'Connell Street) there was a noticeable, uncomfortable tension both between them and around them. They were nice guys, sure, and they joked (for some reason they found the name "Abrakebabra" hilarious) and told stories and did all the usual touring band stuff, but there was... something. Something you couldn't quite put your finger on, like they were straining to maintain a facade. Like they knew what they were meant to be doing and how they were meant to be doing it, but they weren't experiencing it. I used to think it was out of frustration - that they knew what they had accomplished with this album, this completely on the next level record that had the potential to be huge... but here they were still playing these shitty bar gigs.

But when they played, it didn't matter. None of that mattered. They fucking played. To be honest I barely saw them perform that afternoon, but I heard them and I saw the crowd's reaction. There's footage of the gig out there somewhere, probably still on the tape jamie @skinny wolves recorded on the day on a borrowed video camera that almost got destroyed in the chaos. Hopefully it turns up sometime.

They were booked to play another gig that Saturday night, in the Sunshine Bar in Dundalk, so a couple of us drove up for it. There couldn't have been more than 40 or 50 people there to see them, squeezed onto a tiny stage at the end of the bar. The local punks and metallers, the bands themselves, the bar's Saturday night regulars and some passed-out locals. The usual.

And they came out, and they looked around and laughed, and for 35 minutes that felt like so much longer they played like they were stepping out in front of an audience of thousands. I recorded this one for posterity, but it doesn't really do it any justice.


Around the time this album came out, their drummer David Sandström released a solo LP under the name The Faint Sounds Of Shovelled Earth. It sounded nothing like Refused, and everything like the atmosphere that seemed to surround them at the time. Worth a listen, if you can find it.
 

Lili Marlene

Sleeperbloke
Supporter
Contributor
Joined
Oct 14, 2002
Threads
288
Messages
25,043
Location
Way beyond the Rubicon
These haircuts became the International Noise Conspiracy, which is one of the few bands I've ever walked out of, as I thought they were just absurd, trying to live out some Rolling Stones/Primal Scream fantasy. I was there to see the support Rival Schools, and was redeemed by the deadly openers, the just-about-to-be-massive one-hit wonders the Hives.
The "big" album by them, A New Morning IIRC, was one of the best sounding, best recorded completely rubbish albums of all time. The liner notes came with a series of academic-ish essays complete with bibliographies!

I can understand why this wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but The Shape Of Punk To Come was one of those records that made anyone with even a passing interest in punk and hardcore in the mid 90s sit up and listen. With many of these album club selections I think it can be difficult to hear what it was that made something special at the time; there's a certain dilution of impact that comes from the inevitable imitators and from the influenced.
yeah this rings true, even though I was part of the "younger" generation for this kinda thing, I remember a load of us discovered this album off the back of the whole At The Drive-In signing to a major label and briefly getting massive thing. We all thought that post-hardcore stuff was 100% definitely the sound of the future.

When we worked our way back a bit though the various bands we found this Refused album and it fairly blew our minds that something that was way ahead of all these bands had come out before all of them, all the way back in 1998!

There's a great interview on pitchfork somewhere where the guy from ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead talks about his disillusionment over the way music went, he was convinced this whole sound was onto something. Madonna & Source Tags & Codes were really well reviewed and for a moment it really looked possible that all that 90's Discordant (& Dischord-ant) thing was gonna break through in some way. In retrospect i'm not really sure what a "break through" would have actually entailed.

It all fairly got washed away by the Strokes and all that Garage Rock revival stuff because fashion always wins. I used to get angry at how regressive that stuff was compared to what I was listening to. Laughable in retrospect.

Anyway in 2016 I almost never, ever put on this album and I'm much more likely to put on something by the Futureheads which at least reminds me of music that was liked by more than 20 other people in Ireland.

It's still a remarkable achievement though.
 

Cornu Ammonis

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Contributor
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Threads
25
Messages
5,961
Location
Dublin
Website
brainwashed.com
I wasn't expecting to like this one all that much and, to be honest, I don't see myself coming back to it very often and I won't be looking for physical copy. However, I did think it was an interesting enough album. Some of it has noticeably dated but some of it still feels remarkably fresh. I didn't mind the vocals, though I think the tracks where he shakes it up a bit rather than just screaming work best. The surprise skips into techno, jazz samples, etc. all make for a nice mix, otherwise this would be just another heavy shouty album from the late 90s/early 00s. The one track that really works for me is "Tannhäuser/Derivè" which reminds me a lot of A Silver Mt Zion in the beginning before going into more standard 90s metal at the end.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create a thumped.com account. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

We're listening to...

  • Moment EP
    Starry Night - Original Mix
    Peggy Gou
    Moment EP
  • The Calling
    Observer
    Sevdaliza
    The Calling

Support thumped.com

Support thumped.com and upgrade your account

Upgrade your account now to disable all ads... If we had any... Which we don't right now.

Upgrade now

Donate!

Total amount
€0.00
Goal
€100.00

Latest posts

Trending Threads

Latest threads

Top