I don’t know why, but I got up ridiculously early. I’m already showered, have already watered my plants, and have a load of laundry going. I’m feeling productive but, through all of that, I’ve been struggling to find a soundtrack for my day. This can only mean one thing– time for some new music. Like usual, I blindly glanced at my list of albums to review and, for some reason, settled on Short Fictions’ ‘Fates Worse Than Death’. There was really no reason for this choice but I was excited to see what this album would bring.
The album kicks off with “Fates Worse Than Death Pt I: Don’t Want To Wait Out The Apocalypse With Anyone But You”. The title had me excited because the wordiness of it instantly reminded me of my angsty teenage years when bands would have song titles longer than the actual track and, as you may have caught on, my taste in music really hasn’t changed much since those years. As soon as the vocals kicked in, the emotional edge of this band caught me. Although as this first song played through I realized that I wanted something a little bit more upbeat to kick my day off with, there was something captivating about this opening track and I was hooked.
The second part of this song (track 2) is titled “Fates Worse Than Death Pt II: Anthropocene”. This track replaces the airiness of Pt I with a more classic emo sound. Think The Early November but with some more complex instrumentation behind it. The drums are what caught me in this song. There are small little fills and add-ins throughout this song that caught me but never took over the song which is kind of genius if you ask me. Some may call the vocals (which are sparse in this track) whiney but I feel a sense of hope in them. It may not be the upbeat ska-vibe that I was now craving, but there is something undoubtedly upbeat and carefree about this track and this entire quick eight song album. After a triumphant ending, the album moves on to “Cities Under Water”.
“Cities Under Water” seems to take the more classic emo vibe of “Part II” and bring a more modern twist to the sound while still staying true to their clear roots. There is a moment of pure chaos in this song just about a minute in that had my jaw on the ground. It was a bit unexpected but oh so perfect and, although chaotic, the band never loses control. Moments like this are scattered throughout ‘Fates Worse Than Death’ and really just prove that, although Short Fictions have a familiar sound and feeling, there’s something truly unique about this group that will surely shoot them to the top of my daily playlist for the foreseeable future.
Half way through the album is “Nothingness Lies Coiled at the Heart of Being (It’s Such a Good Feeling)”. Again, with the long song titles that just scream nostalgia and make my heart full, this track. This song was the perfect follow up to “Cities Under Water” because the band seems to take the moments of chaos and almost spread and even them out for this song. There’s an edge to this song that made it instantly become my favorite track. The lyrics have the perfect amount of angst while not coming off as too young or anything for a 30-something like myself that just can’t let go of my emo years. “I always feel so plain and still, I might not exist at all, but I persist if all of this might mean something to someone”. The complexity of the lyrics are what really have me sold on this song and it took me a couple of listens to really digest them all and figure out what they mean to me. I would tell you the meaning I got from them but, let’s be honest, that ruins all of the fun.
“Really Like You” is a super fun and playful track on the part but, when you dig into the lyrics, it’s not as happy-go-lucky. This track spoke to me due to the lyrics that really just cut to the core. Although a quick song, it made an impact on me and became one of those tracks that I had to listen to a couple of times before moving on to “I’m Proud To Know You, You Are Special (Goodbye, Ryan)”. As if “Really Like You” didn’t cut me to the core enough with the words, “I’m Proud To Know You, You Are Special (Goodbye, Ryan)” had me just stunned. Although I don’t know the background on the track, it seems to be someone (Samantha Proctor) reading a note that was written about a friendship that has ended due to someone going away in some fashion. Vague, yes, but that vagueness brings a sense of mystery that made me want to truly understand everything about the letter from the writer to the receiver, to everything else. Atmosphere instrumentation follows the muffled words along before it takes over after the note is done. There’s something ridiculously powerful about this song that I just can’t put my finger on and although it would never be a go to song for me due to the pure emotion it conveys, the beauty of it is not lost on me.
“Living In Places Like These Can Be Bad For Your Health (Can’t Live Here Anymore)” instantly snapped me out of the awe created by the previous song but it wasn’t a huge drastic change. As this song played, I realized that although I could compare Short Fictions to a million bands of the emo years gone by and the new emo revival that seems to have been taking place the past couple of years thanks to bands like Microwave and All Get Out, none of those bands even come close to matching the sound of Short Fictions. They have this truly unique blend of so many influences that, if you were an angsty teenage who hated the world in the early 2000’s and are now 30ish with some of the same feelings but also trying to pull it together and figure out this adulthood thing, you will catch on and fall in love with this band instantly.
Closing out this quick eight song album is “Property of Pigeons”. The lyrics of this song are actually from a poem by the same name written by Mine Loy C. Cryptic and calming, this is the perfect ending to the journey that is ‘Fates Worse Than Death’. Although this track ends the album on a more atmospheric note than I wanted it to, it ended with a song full of nostalgia, innovation, and beauty (with a few moments of chaos) in a way that only Short Fictions can do.
Short Fictions is absolutely going to be a band that sticks with me for the foreseeable future and I can’t wait until the touring world gets a bit back to normal and I get the chance to see this brilliant group on a stage. If their recordings are this powerful, I can only imagine what their live shows may be like.
My Favorite Track(s): “Nothingness Lies Coiled at the Heart of Being (It’s Such a Good Feeling)”; “Really Like You”
For Fans Of: Nostalgic Emo Days; The Emo Revival Scene; Mood Swings
Dance-ability: 6.8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid on the kitchen table; Autumn slept in my bedroom
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 10 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.3 out of 10
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