The Impossible Shapes – Bless the Headless

The Impossible Shapes
Bless the Headless

On their newest release Bless the Headless, the Impossible Shapes have eschewed their former lo-fi basement sound for the crispness and clarity of a music studio. The sound is still warm, though, and it evokes the feel of a tightly-knit band of musicians crammed together in a small room cranking out textured, experimental pop ditties.
The core of the Impossible Shapes is singer and songwriter Chris Barth, who brings a strange, almost fairy-tale like lyricism to the music. “Sometimes it feels so good to cry / it feels so good to die / in the woods at night,” he sings on the jangly “Lie.” The slower, spookier “I Live on the Roof” is a strange yet likable little ramble written from the perspective of – it seems – someone lurking on the roof of their target of affection.
Musically, the sound is fairly consistent across all 10 tracks on the album. For the most part, subtle guitars and keyboard lines are dressed up with the occasional addition of other instruments such as accordions, synthesized flutes, and even dissonant noise (witness the chaotic implosion that concludes “Kids Need Creeks.”) The most noticeable musical trait is probably the staccato, unconventional drumming style mixed loud and upfront on many tracks. Tempos often speed up and slow down abruptly in mid-song, which can be unsettling if you’re used to relaxing to a steady groove.
Despite its seemingly whimsical sound, Bless the Headless can be something of a difficult listen. It’s unusual to hear happy, pop-oriented music strung out in such a psychedelic way. The lyrics are interesting and poetic, yet the inability to make immediate sense of them makes them hard to identify with. That said, the Impossible Shapes have come up with something different, and fun, and the disc will reward you if you give the music time to sink in.