steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Complicated Shirt

"Strigine" CD


Genres: indie rock, garage rock, lo-fi

Jan 31 - Feb 6 2005

Wow.  This is a challenging album.  With the abundance of accessible pop that's been coming out of the indie scene recently, it's always nice to hear a band like Complicated Shirt release something that reminds us of the grimy, lo-fi brashness that lured us into the indie rock world in the first place.  Strigine is loud, sloppy, and occasionally painful - but that's what makes it so fun.  Right off the bat this record comes out noisy and "melodically difficult" - "We Are The World" is a vicious explosion of pained vocals and trashy, barely tuneful guitars, yet somehow the combination works.  "The Little Eyesore That Could" tries a bit more of a melodic angle, but it doesn't sacrifice power; "Tear Party," meanwhile, is best described as "demented sensitivity" - the song is a bit slower, but it has a strange march-like rhythm to it, and the "love song" lyrics are mocking and mean-spirited.

A particularly impressive aspect of Complicated Shirt is the emotion they convey in the singing, which is always expressive - often to disturbing (or hilarious) extremes.  Lead vocalist Drew Benton proves an operatic voice isn't needed to sing on a record of this nature.  The key is often in the lyrics, which the band fills to the brim with snappy one-liners and clever images; "The Sound of the Sirens," for example, is packed full with gems like "our pets are just victims of Stockholm Syndrome" and "the mechanical bull is all done with your bullshit."

Complicated Shirt's overall noise occupies the vacant space between garage rock and punk, but somehow it turns out more inspired than either genre.  For the truly adventurous indie rocker, Strigine is a must.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2004]