This is a review of "Thirteen O'Clock" recorded by Shatner. The review was written by Nick Rowan in 2008.
The image of silent film star Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock face on the front cover feels significant – Lloyd is captured struggling with the hands of time. It’s not that Shatner are at all concerned with the zeitgeist (you may have already surmised that from their name) - they are perfectly aware that they’re out of step but they wear it as a badge of honour. As they put it on the superb Anticlockwise, “If it’s in then we get out of it.” Their debut record may be lacking in afrobeat but it does offer tight, atmospheric pop rock and occasionally sparks memories of mid-tempo legends like Mansun and Teenage Fanclub.
The ticking of time is a constant theme - the record is obsessed with youth but, unusually, from an outsider perspective. Shatner have put together confident arrangements, but lyrically they hint at a surprising vulnerability, a wistfulness that is neither cynical nor myopic. They’re hardly consistent in their attitude though, at other times they display outright denial. Funny to hear the complexities and contradictions of adult life documented on record when the standard pop stance is to represent that you’re in league with Peter Pan.
It doesn’t always work. You Made It Happen is clunky and verging on an embarrassment. Its perfect three minute length can only be some kind of ungodly coincidence. There are a couple of other sluggish tracks but in general this album is pretty strong.
Sometimes it feels like there’s an underclass in the Leeds Music Scene. The in-crowd of scenesters and writers are continually chasing after the next big thing - blithely genre-hopping, ignoring (or bad-mouthing) last week’s heartthrob and the result is that bands that don’t fit the mould are trampled in the crush. Maybe one day the kids will realise that cool is not all that cool, until then Shatner may have to make do with a few good record reviews.