Silverstein

Short Songs

Written by: PP on 07/06/2012 04:09:19

Less than a year after the release of "Rescue", Silverstein are ready with their sixth album "Short Songs". As the title suggests, the band wanted to explore a more hardcore punk oriented approach to their beloved emo/post-hardcore sound, so their solution was to record 22 songs spanning under twenty minutes in total length. Now, you might notice that TL isn't reviewing this album even though he's been the go-to guy for Silverstein coverage here at Rockfreaks.net for the past many years, and that's because it was 'too hardcore' for him to review, so it became my task to review it. He has a point. Who is this release geared towards, exactly? Lets discuss.

Silverstein has always been an emo/post-hardcore band that's been loosely connected to hardcore/punk on a couple of songs on each album. Everyone who has ever been a fan of Silverstein knows that. So what are they trying to prove here exactly? Is this their call for attention to prove to the haters that there's more to their band than whiny clean vocals and pseudo-heavy post-hardcore riffs? That they were inspired by hardcore bands (half of the record consists of covers of legendary bands, more on that shortly)? That their critics would now shut up since they aren't just a crybaby emo band but have some real hardcore power to them?

The thing is, writing songs spanning between six seconds and a minute and a half isn't going to prove to anyone that you're a hardcore band. Yes, they are fast, and yes, in many cases they are the hardest and most aggressive material Silverstein have written since "When Broken Is Easily Fixed". But I'm relatively sure that I'm not stepping on anyone's toes when I say that Silverstein just aren't a very good hardcore band. They're an excellent emo/post-hardcore band no doubt, capable of delivering memorable melodies and staying ahead of their more generic and saturated peers (at least in the past), and have arguably released at least a couple of classics within their own style.

But needless to say, hearing Shane Told's angsty clean croons on fast songs, contrasted by his post-hardcore scream, just doesn't work as well as it does on their more dynamic melodies found on their normal material. That's why the short, fast, and aggressive material on the first half of the record sounds a little awkward in places. It's no surprise that the best songs on this part are the ones where Silverstein do what Silverstein do best: write harmonised emo/post-hardcore songs with a slightly above-average tempo and a good harsh/clean contrast: "Brookfield" is a good example, "Sin & Redemption" is another. There are only a couple of these on the record, rest just race by so fast that it's difficult to grasp onto them as memorable songs, probably because they aren't very memorable in the first place.

Then there's the second half, which consists entirely of Silverstein covering short songs by famous bands in punk, emo, and hardcore. NOFX's "It's My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite" is absolutely butchered by Shane's emo croon, and Descendents' "Coffee Mug" just doesn't sound anywhere near as convincing as the original. Chixdiggit, Green Day, Orchid, Gorilla Biscuits, and Dead Kennedys (this one is actually pretty good) also receive a Silverstein treatment, most of them sounding like the fans of those bands should take some serious offense for what's going on here. Also, what is the point of covering a 5 second song by Good Clean Fun? That's just retarded. I get it, these are their influences, but an emo band covering legendary hardcore/punk bands is walking on an extremely thin line, which unfortunately broke when Silverstein stepped on it, and it isn't one that's easily fixed.

To return to my original point, hardcore people will find this laughable, whereas most Silverstein fans will leave this album scratching their head, secretly hoping this isn't the future direction of the band. Fair enough if they wanted to let off some steam through some fast and aggressive music, but otherwise this isn't very good.

6

Download: Brookfield, SOS, Sin & Redemption
For the fans of: Silverstein in a steroid pumped version
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 07.02.2012
Hopeless Records

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