Shiner's 'Schadenfreude' Is a Triumphant Return After Almost 20 Years

Shiner's 'Schadenfreude' Is a Triumphant Return After Almost 20 Years
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It seems like a generation ago that Kansas City's Shiner last graced our unworthy ears with what would be their final album, 2001's The Egg. The band quietly parted company in 2002, and singer-guitarist Allen Epley spent a decade fronting the Life and Times. Almost twenty years later, the classic line-up — Epley, guitarist Josh Newton, bassist Paul Malinowski and drummer extraordinaire Jason Gerken — reconvene for their fifth studio album, Schadenfreude.

Album opener "In the End" is a laserblast to any doubts that a bunch of 50-year-olds could jump back into the well-worn '90s post-hardcore/space rock scene. "Life as a Mannequin" is the second swing of the inaugural one-two punch, a slow-burner with massively ringing riffs, bottom-heavy thump, and Gerken's slo-mo, Neil Peart-like fills.

"Genuflect" is truly one of their finest songs: tethered by Malinowski's ropey bass, Epley and Newton drape their shimmering chords over Gerken's exceptional upper-tom rhythms, emphatic cymbal usage and calculated drum rolls. The structure of "Nothing" resembles a more focused late-career Failure, while the fast-paced "Paul P Pogh" hearkens back to their youthful watershed, 1997's Lula Divinia.

Malinowski, who also produced 2000's unsurpassed Starless, deliberately cranked up the magic on the mixing board for this record, which sounds vivid yet chunky through headphones or buzzing car stereo speakers. The album title is the German term for taking pleasure from other's misfortunes. If that is to be interpreted as this glorious album finding enjoyment in this virus-riddled world, then so be it: Schadenfreude is the cleansing light, and Shiner are waiting for us at the end of the tunnel. (Independent)