Review of Silverstein's 'Short Songs'

ShortSongs_CoverI’ve always been a Silverstein listener; not necessarily a fan. They have a handful of albums that I really got behind (Discovering the Waterfront, A Shipwreck in the Sand, and Rescue), and some that I have rather forgotten about (their debut When Broken Is Easily Fixed, and Arrivals and Departures). I’ve even enjoyed their multitude of covers, ranging from Kanye West and OneRepublic, to classic Bob Dylan. But when I heard that they’re new album was called Short Songs, I hoped that it was just some ironic name that is no way reflecting what this album was going to be. However, it is 22 songs, containing eleven original songs and eleven covers – none of which goes over two minutes.

Coming in at only EIGHTEEN MINUTES, Short Songs is full of Silverstein’s winning formula, just in tiny bite sized bits. The majority of the original section are fast-paced anthems, which is their normal song-and-dance. The first two songs, “Sick As Your Secrets” and “Sin & Redemption” are both perfect examples of the screamo-punk that they have been putting out for years, just in smaller forms. “Brookfield” is their closest thing to a short punk classic; an angsty song which calls for promises a certain former lover once said. The rest of the original songs feels oddly reminiscent to their older releases and each other, mostly in part to their length. Towards the middle, they start running into each other, which if you don’t have the tracklist up, then you would swear they were the same thing. “Sleep Around” is a nice song to balance out the loud, as it made the most of its one minute-nineteen second length to make a nice ballad.

Then comes the second half of the album, which covers some of the biggest punk bands ever, including Green Day, NOFX, and Dead Kennedys. This is where Shane Told really excels; although he is a good screamer when he has to, his down-to-Earth punk sound really makes the second half better than the first. “236 E. Broadway” is a wonderful throwback to Gob, as well as their cover of Green Day’s “The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink” (Shane Told does do the best Billy Joel impersonation out there). And because I love Silverstein’s ballads, the inclusion and delivery of The Promise Rings’ “Scenes From Parisian Life” was outstanding, and is by far my favorite track.

One complaint with Short Songs, surprisingly, is the fact that they have so many covers on it. I am normally all for it, because they are usually pretty good (not saying these aren’t), but if you are going to put out an album full of one minute songs, you can probably sit down and record a 22 song set with all original material. But no, half of the songs were from other bands. I do love their covers and get that they were who influenced them, but I like original material more. If they sat down and gave me 22 original sons and these covers thrown in there, then it wouldn’t be any problem at all.

And lastly, the length of the album killed it in my opinion. The guys could sat down and really pushed out some great material, but instead restricted themselves to, well, short songs. I could imagine each of the original songs on the LP as bigger, more bombastic songs filled with some incredible instrumentals and breakdowns. I’m not saying that they’re bad on Short Songs, but looking back on their older material, I know that they can do so much better.

This is not the best Silverstein album by a long shot. Although it had ideas of some potentially great rock songs, they get cut short due to the restricting time limits. If they sat down with these original ideas and fully fleshed them out, then this album would’ve been a lot better than it actually is. I understand that they wanted to emulate older punk bands who tore the house down with a song that only lasted a short amount of time, but I find myself liking Silverstein more when they stick to their own format more. The truly great thing about Short Songs is what I found myself doing once it concluded; digging through my library and listening to their previous material.

Final Grade: B-

Go Download: “Scenes From Parisian Life (Originally by The Promise Ring)

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