The Snails have returned. They once self-identified as Teletubby reggae pop and have long been known as Baltimore’s answer to the California Raisins, but one thing The Snails have never been is prolific. The super group of glammy, slimy garage rockers began their existence as a birthday band for Spank Rock. Word spread of that historic first performance and The Snails banded for 10 shows, only to disappear. Years later, The Snails released the Worth The Wait EP on Friends Records in 2013, salted the East Coast with 10 more shows and dissolved again.
With members that span Future Islands, Wume, and Lower Dens, opportunities to don the snail heads once again have been minimal. But, by some magical mystery The Snails have reappeared with the Valentine’s Day release of Songs From The Shoebox. The 10-song full length features Samuel T. Herring, aka Sammy Snail, at the microphone helm and in this stripped and blistered format he’s flexing those Joe Cocker pipes. Rolling seven Snails deep on Songs From The Shoebox, there is a junkyard funk to the debut. Opener “The Tight Side of Life” is vintage Flaming Lips power pop, spliced with a BTO breakdown just for the hell of it. Later, a Future Islands-esque groove commands “Shoebox” as saxophones replace synths to mime Herring’s melodies. It finds a more polished home of orchestral fluttering on “Parachutes”. By the instrumental exit of “Do Like You Do”, you’ll find yourself thinking, “I thought this was a joke band?” Indeed, Songs From The Shoebox might close on a Christmas song with the lyrics “my shell is full of good will and cheer”, but it also includes the saxophone jazzercise of “Tea Leaves” that explodes into an E Street Band battles the Pink Robots outro.
Songs From The Shoebox is an albatross offering. Aptly, The Snails are going nowhere. Never to be signed or grace a festival stage, it is simply a joke among friends with a transient lifespan. We are simply fortunate that these guys still find the joke fun and funny enough to keep it alive.