The little that I’ve read about Philladelphia’s Tough Shits points out that they’re a bunch of slackers and ne’er do wells. I doubt the veracity of that reporting in light of their self-titled debut album that just hit the streets courtesy of Burger Records. For a bunch of underachievers they certainly know their way around writing a pop song, and they certainly don’t slack when it comes to the hooks department.
The 12 songs on their album run the gambit from irreverent to silly to sincere, and sometimes all three occur in the same song. No matter what the song’s personality, the punk and power pop roots make this record shine like the gold wax on which it was pressed. It kicks off with a Replacements-like rave-up Try Not To Laugh, then moves into the slightly mellower pure pop that harkens to Wilco‘s A.M. Cat’s and Dogs with it’s Let’s Active jangle is next and you think they’re stacking the deck and front-loading this record, but the hooks keep coming. The big double entrendre of Space Heater will make you smile, the simple earnestness of Early Grave will tug at your heart a little, and the party-like Holding a Seance will have you busting out your Ouija board.
With a name like the Tough Shits, I doubt that they expect to be taken too seriously and they want you to think that they’re a bunch of slacker rebels, but a lot of the time their sensitive side belies that disguise. Not many bands have been able to master walking the fine line between debauchery and sensitivity the way the Replacements did in their heyday but Tough Shits have done it on their first album.