Complicated Shirt – Compromising Compositions

Complicated Shirt
Compromising Compositions

The wiseacres in Complicated Shirt have disgorged another release for the world to consider. Compromising Compositions, the band’s second full-length, shows that the band hasn’t lost its edge in the couple of years between releases. This one’s a roller coaster, too.

The New York trio takes the approach of cramming as many words as possible into songs that usually feature distorted, note-driven guitar work and rollicking drums. At times, the music side of things bears a resemblance to MX80 Sound, as on tracks like “Procyonine,” “Paper Cups Attached By String,” and “Today’s Front Page.” The playing is loose and sometimes unusual and unexpected, with a free-jazz graft put onto indie rock. While MX80 Sound purposefully went for a deadpan effect, though, Complicated Shirt goes for exuberance.

As far as the lyrics, you’d better have your dictionary handy if you want to make sense of them. Well, actually, that will help you only so much. Looking up “micturate” and “unfenestrated” won’t necessarily help you decipher the absurdist intentions of their usages here. Such dada lines as “Lordotic gargoyles stampeding under jaundiced beacons” can’t really mean anything, can they? At times, you’ll feel as though you are undergoing an experiment in neuro-linguistic programming as you try to process the onslaught of syllables. But it’s all in fun, I’m sure; I don’t think the band intends to rewire anyone’s brain just yet.

Compromising Compositions really sounds like a cross between The Embarassment and The STNNNG. It’s a marriage of some clever wordplay, clever composition, and clever playing. It rocks when it wants to but sometimes it just wants to take it easy and confuse you slowly. “The Somnambulateur,” to take one instance, will drive you crazy if you try to figure it out as its tale of sleepwalking starts involving the kissing of cousins and the playing of Uno. So my advice is this: don’t try to figure it out. Just listen and enjoy. These smart alecks are probably a step ahead of the rest of us anyway.