When a band doesn't release new music, for nearly a decade, it's understandable when fans of the band are both excited, and nervous, for the new music. 'Will they still be the band I love?'
With Short Songs for End Times, we get more of The Casket Lottery we've come to love. They sound like they haven't missed a beat, while delivering hard hitting songs - both musically, and lyrically.
There's something to be said with bands that have the ability to release album after album, that all sounds relatively the same, but still manage to hold your attention. With some bands, I have a tendency to listen to their newer stuff, and feel drawn to just go back to the stuff I've grown to know and love. That's not the case here.
This record has enough going on, with enough strong songs and standout moments, that it's worth your time.
You Are a Knife
As an album opener it kind of gets off to a lurching start, that maybe would've been better suited later in the record, but once it gets going it sets the rest of the record up nicely. The bridge finishes this song so well.
Big Heart/Closed Mind
The second track highlights something that really stands out on this record for me - the vocals. Nathan Ellis has always had his own sound, but on this record I hear a few different comparisons, ones I had never noticed before. Now, whether that is due to production/mixing choices, or not, remains to be seen. But, he ranges from sounding like Matt Pryor (the Get Up Kids) to Jim Ward (At The Drive-In/Sparta) and even, at times, Dexter Holland (The Offspring) - although I think the latter is simply a comparison to the reverb on Ellis' voice reminding me of the reverb used on Holland's voice on Smash.
'Big heart, closed mind/you just can't be right all the time'
This might actually be my preferred choice as album opener with it's opening riff, and more melodic verses. Having said that, it really pushes the album forward, at this point, getting into its strongest songs. The fact that, according to Ellis, it was written in about 15 minutes, blows my mind.
Everything about this song is great, the lead guitar riff with the subtle delay, the wandering bassline, and Ellis' vocals help bring this song together. In fact, the guitar line gives me some mewithoutYou vibes.
'Deflating hopelessness/I know what that feels like now/You can fall apart or you can give it all up/or you can pay the price/how'd it ever get so...'
'Here we go again/one more time around/always pushing that boulder up/just to watch it go down'
Everything Is Broken
Another guitar line that reminds me of some of my favourite work from mewithoutYou, and that's ok, because it's also distinctly Casket Lottery. This brings up a note for me, the guitar tones on this record are quite nice. Often times, I hear records and the first thing that jumps out is the guitar tone - sometimes that's for unfortunate reasons - these guitars sound great, however, and sit perfectly in the overall mix.
''Cause everything is broken/might we be broken too?/hold on to tight to all your shit and your memories/fuck the facts, your opinion stays'
Trust As a Weapon
Judging by the title of this song, it seems to be about people who gain your trust, just to use it against you. The instrumental breakdown is where this song really hits its stride with a creeping guitar riff, and driving drums, it really stands out from the rest of the record.
The closer is probably my favourite song on the record. It starts out with a sweeling synth which kind of explodes into big guitar chords, opening up to a nice clean guitar riff, before the song takes a turn on the verse - it stutters its way through until hitting the chorus. The instrumental bridge on this song, also introduces some guitar and drum interplay that turns the song over. At nearly six and a half minutes, it's easily the longest song on the record, but the twists and turns keep it fresh from start to finish.
'Help me find the solid ground/when this place is found/where's love?'
I didn't mention all the songs, although I did mention quite a few, but to wrap it up, I'd say fans of the Casket Lottery will be happy with the long-awaited release.
Want more new music? Check out our review of the debut album from American Fail.