Sharks Keep Moving – Pause and Clause EP

Sharks Keep Moving
Pause and Clause EP

After three long years of inactivity, Sharks Keep Moving are finally back with a brand new EP entitled Pause and Clause. This release was originally slated to come out quite a while ago and was at one time to be titled Barcelona. Being an avid fan of SKM’s first two releases, (an amazing debut EP on Second Nature Recordings, Desert Strings and Drifters, and a self-titled full-length on Status Recordings), I was more than little excited to hear the bands new material. During the band’s three-year hiatus they kept quite busy. They broke up for awhile and formed numerous side projects that are still active today, including Minus the Bear (who just released an EP on Suicide Squeeze), On Alaska, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Eventually Sharks Keep Moving decided to get back together, record three brand new songs featured on this EP, and go on a mini tour playing select dates throughout the west coast.
For those who have never heard the band before, their sound ranges quite a bit from release to release. Their first EP, Desert Strings, found them playing a style closely resembling the band American Football, mostly filled with very intricately woven clean guitars, solid slinky bass lines, crisp jazzy drumming, and the occasional cello. However, unlike AF, it would eventually break into heavier more rocking moments. The vocals were soft and laid back, and the lyrics were melancholy with more than enough nostalgia. Their full-length found the band exploring more mathy moments more akin to bands like Don Caballero with the slowness and intricacy of a band like Karate.
Since then, the band had three years to perfect their craft, and I was expecting to be blown away at least. Instead I find P&C to be a very mediocre release at best. The songs for the most part sound like they were thrown together at the last minute. There are many jazzy filler moments on the 20-some minute EP, which makes the album feel more like a full-length (but not in a good way). It moves sluggish at best. All of the gorgeous melodies found on the first disc and interesting rocking rhythms found on the full-length are completely gone. They’re instead replaced by a lot of beeps and odd synth effects akin to really bad version of Joan of Arc.
The lyrics are for the most part trite at best. Jake Snider sings, “I’ll start walking if you start walking” repeatedly throughout the first track, “Tied to the Tracks.” I will say, however, that I do enjoy some of the guitar-work on the title track. This track reminds me of their earlier releases and gives me hope that the band is still more than capable of coming up with unique guitar riffs and interesting melodies.
I’m hoping this EP was just more or less a mistake of sorts and is not a sign of what is to come in the future for SKM. My advice is to explore the new Minus the Bear EP on Suicide Squeeze, which features Jake Snider (vocalists/guitarist of SKM) doing more of the intricate rocking mathy stuff crossed with slower, prettier guitar parts much more akin to older sharks material.