Shanghai Blues - 'Lies'


Lies’ is the latest offering from Londoners Shanghai Blues- a lively, emotional and rock-fuelled piece which reflects a more confident side to the indie quartet and propels the band to greater and greater strengths. 

Shanghai Blues, from Walthamstow, East London, are childhood friends James Chalk, Reece Ismael, James Heed, and Mike Stinton. Although only having formed back in 2016, they have already played with the likes of JUDAS, Glass Caves and Palace, played festivals such as Camden Rocks and The Great Escape, and toured the UK on their own, with further dates to come, such as playing with BBC introducing in Reading, or playing Thousand Island in London in October. Known for their tremendous live performance and incredible stage presence, judging by their loyal fan base, ShanghaiBlues are as good a band to watch as they are to listen to. 

Lies’ was inspired by a toxic relationship had by the drummer, Mike, which culminated in a moment of clarity after waking up after a party, ‘on the bedroom floor’, battered and bruised, and realising that he’d had enough of the ‘lies and the lines’; the lines referring both to the constant excuses and the drugs which had corrupted their relationship. However, the simplicity of the lyrics- in particular the repetition of the chorus- serves to elevate it. The intense outbursts lead to intimate accessibility to the pain expressed in the song, which lends itself to a closer connection between the band and the listener, which will transfer effortlessly to live performances. 

Lies’ opens with an electric guitar, transformed by reverb and delay into a tinkering, contemplative, almost wistful version of itself. The echoes of the guitar transition quickly into James Chalk’s nostalgic vocals, seeming apologetic in their delivery- the perfect time to introduce an explosive flurry of drums, before returning to the second and final verse, now in full force. 

From here, lyrically, the song becomes a repeated motif of ‘I left your heart on the bedroom floor’. Although simplistic and potentially repetitive, it works, due in part to the emotive delivery by James and in part to the brilliant music accompaniment by the band as a whole. This, the chorus, takes priority in the song- the verses are subdued and gentle in contrast to its frantic roar, which is the perfect reflection of the song’s meaning- wounded vulnerability and pain juxtaposed against passionate fury. 

Although ‘lies’ may not be unique in its inspiration or execution, it is nonetheless a brilliant song, full of fury and fervour, and the latest in a string of other great songs by the up and coming band, which only serves to warrant further praise and attention. 

Words by James O'Sullivan