Shack Up is dead funky. It begins with bass, percussion, some sultry breaths and clip-clop sounds going off left, right and centre, forming a funk bassline. That's how it sounds, but on closer inspection all of the various unidentifiable noises are intentional – they're repeated two bars later. Gradually a guitar joins in, and then the funk escalates, and then it escalates again.
This is the first twenty seconds.
They're twenty of the grooviest seconds I can recall hearing, and I've heard Pick Up the Pieces. As Camille starts singing, the funkstruments seem to briefly recoil a little as if accommodating her. As the verse progresses they're joined by what sound like (and what I'm gonna choose to refer to as) panpipes, playing a simple tune over the top.
During the instrumental break, which essentially serves as a chorus, the guitar and panpipes play off each other in call-and-response style, with the panpipes carrying the lead melody. They sit out the first couple of lines in the second verse and the funkstrumentation again minimises to accommodate Camille. Of course, when it all resumes it's groovier than ever.
At the end of the second instrumental break, a few disco-style twinkles “conclude” the song and prompt the obligatory applause. Yep, false ending. The funk beat resumes, backed with general breathiness from Camille, and almost seems to peter out before a reprise of the first verse kicks in, funked up to the max.
Throughout, the notes the panpipes hit are often jazzily distorted or discordant, in fact the whole thing has a certain jazziness about it, complementing Camille's voice. Her vocals are half-whispered, half-moaned, increasingly so throughout the song. During the second verse, her “shack up”s (which, in Banbarra's original and A Certain Ratio's more famous cover, were a response to the lead vocal's call) descend to a whisper, but by the song's conclusion are emphatic.
Add to this miscellaneous breaths and the occasional whispered “shack up” and the whole thing exudes sultry.
It's not bossa nova. If you download one song this week, Shack Up, baby. Stay tuned.