reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
The track list for SHORT STORY __shrtr looks like disarray, at first glance. A smattering of symbols — some emojis, even — and three songs with accompanying Bandcamp lyrics that aren’t the lyrics, but another medium in which Squiggly Lines (AKA Rob McLay) can tell his story. Embracing entropy, Squiggly Lines’ latest EP uses everything at language’s disposal, unconcerned with tidiness, more concerned with meaning.
“Honesty isn’t always the best policy,” reads the first non-lyrics on the EP, followed by “with aspirations of small, petty truths”, and “for better or worse”. The message is a bit more dismal than the tone of the first track. But, almost prophetic, the disintegration emerges. “language + inflᴂction” kicks off as the longest track on the album and the most positive. A love song at its core, the second person lyrics grow closer and closer until it feels as though McLay is murmuring love for his Maria in your ear before he pulls back and lets fuzzy chaos take over.
The next two tracks are shorter. “EM // saving the WORLD ” has a quick and angry tone going for it, and it also plays with distance, drawing close and pulling back just enough to keep you hooked. “⏺ moon ⏺” brings the melancholy full-on, and is on edge, jumpy — the percussion dropping the occasional stutter, the guitars uneasy. Likewise, the lyrics describe a turmoil: “It’s not quite clear if I’m jealous or insincere,” McClay sings. It’s the epitome of the experimental edge that makes SHORT STORY __shrtr special, and pulls from messiness to bring everything down. The story is complete, and the love that introduced us is gone.
Short, not always sweet, but certainly ready to get the message out by any and all means necessary, SHORT STORY __shrtr does what it needs to do, it tells us a story.
Top Track: “⏺ moon ⏺ ”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)