Mixtapes – [7” EP]

Tuesday, 02 August 2011

Look around the pop diaspora in 2011, and you might be surprised to discover that something's missing: innocence. It sounds impossible to believe, but think about it – when's the last time you heard some sugary pop which didn't have some ulterior motive? The prevailing trend in both pop and indie rock has been to sugarcoat hard feelings recently, and play to some kind of overdone irony; Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera built their careers on such fashionably professional pop, and even The Moldy Peaches couldn't resist cutting their sugar with a bit of crack back in the day. It's an ugly truth, but it seems like no one can stand being sweet just for the sake of it anymore; the closest that musicians can bring themselves to being loveable (not to be confused with “lusted after”) is aiming for a tired irony – no one's totally forthright and upfront anymore.

This running theme is a little heartbreaking but, happily, Mixtapes have come along with A Short Collection Of Short Songs – an EP that just can't keep itself from being sweet and blunt.

Listeners will know what they've been missing from the instant “Happy Birthday Summer Camp” leads the EP off with these lines:

“The nights we spend, the looks we give
The desire to just fit in
I've been wondering just how far I'd go
but today I'll face it all alone
I don't remember much about a lot
Just staying out all night in a parking lot
But as we changed I started to realize
that I can't slow down
so good night, I'm goin' home.”

Hearing those lyrics feels like throwing on a beat-up old concert T-shirt and discovering that it still fits (actually fits). It's perfectly comfortable and listeners will be able to feel both their stomach and shoulder muscles relax; it's beautiful, and when the gang vocals kick up shortly thereafter, it'll just feel good to hear.

While nothing about the rest of A Short Collection Of Short Songs sounds exactly like “Happy Birthday Summer Camp,” Mixtapes never lets the dominating vibe of it drop even once through the rest of the EP's run-time. “The Real Hotel California” picks up the pace immediately, and just flies like both Green Day and Blink 182 used to with speedy guitars and instantly memorable melodies to spare before the band steps back again and dials down the volume to emphasize their trouble-gum lyrical streak with “Soup's Whatever” (where singers Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver mirror each other through lines like “I used to hang out more but now everyone's wasted/ I didn't change I just got tired of the same faces/ They mostly hate me now so I guess it's better thane everyone/ I'm just no fun and I hate you”) and close out the first side of this seven-inch.

The flip-side of the EP keeps the same flavors going as Weaver wakes up after a long night with a scratchy voice and a song stuck in her head for “I'm Like” before reaching for an acoustic guitar again on the aptly-entitled “Whit's End” and gets truly heartfelt for “Anna Maria” to close out the EP. In reading that, one might think that the second side is of lesser fare than the first because it was so easy to sum up, but that isn't exactly true; the second side is okay, it just doesn't play as bluntly as the first and takes lighter swings with its “honesty with a baseball bat” approach to provide a sort of resolve.

Even with that said, if one takes the EP as a whole, A Short Collection Of Short Songs is most definitely a rewarding listen. Between the songs themselves and the approach that the band takes to them, this EP just feels fresh all over – even if it is rooted in a well-established sound.



A Short Collection Of Short Songs
is out now. Buy it here directly from Animal Style Records.

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