Shiny Around the Edges I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye 7"
Paper Stain Recordings

Publication: We Shot
Reviewer: Defensive Listening

The Shiny Around the Edges seven inch quickly establishes the overall aesthetic of the group, and ends much too quickly. Like all good seven inches, you'll want to hear an album, or at the very least, an EP afterwards. Side A is a cover of the Willie Nelson track "I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye," which is done in the Shiny tradition of dousing more conventional material with liberal amounts of drone before peeling the comforting layers, lyrically and musically, until the fragile little emotional structure is left exposed. In this case, Jennifer Seman's vocals bring to mind a mother singing an a-capella lullaby to a deathly ill child in the dark. The drone eventually gives way to such niceties as a keyboard part faintly employing the pop tradition of mimicking the main vocal and the subtle backing harmony of The Castanet's Ray Raposa. When the track draws to its dreary conclusion, you're left startled at the abruptness of the needle clipping the runoff.

Side B is titled "Applied Quantum Physics" and builds up with an effective moodiness that's only barely threatened to be broken by the busy plink of pianist Sean Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is skilled to be certain, but is perhaps too much of a soloist and is stylistically so recognizable that I knew who it was without reading the credits. The playing sounds much like his work in The Paperchase and his own solo project, where his menacing minor key sounds much more comfortable. It's not exactly a knock against Kirkpatrick to suggest he's better off not being a session man.

As the track releases, it reaches a place that they've come to live as the band has improved their live palette by incorporating a more palpable push in their dynamic. The backing vocals blend superbly with Michael Seman's somewhat deadpan declarations and are offset by the upright tom pounding and starkly understated thud. Definitely memorable.