Shipwreck, as a name for this band is lovely, but may ring deceptive for certain listeners hungry for something more towering in its aggression. It wouldn’t be an entire disappointment on the other hand. This four-piece from the “Midwest” give listeners a pleasant sinking feeling with ebbing and flowing nausea, hallucinations and cries to God as to why He is fucking them over as they piss themselves into green, salty oblivion. However it is a slow feeling of sinking and one without enormous sharks with exaggerated tendencies to rip up humans.
To listen to Shipwreck would give one the impression that, while Brooklyn wades in self-obsessive, nonexistent stardom, the Midwestern indie rockers have taken to the raped wastelands of college rock and pissed their personal magic all over the soil. From there, plants grow that bear beans and sprouts of progressive wonder and derring do. The first track, with the mystical title of “Walk in the Woods” is filled with just such sorcery. Within the profound pounding out of post-jangle pop chords or what have you, are various sonic tweaks of semi-ambience. Vocals recall the indie loudmouth delivery of Lee Ranaldo as well as more wistfully puzzling rendition of Paul Banks. Lyrical wanderings of this song I suspect, but only with limited scholarly insight, might intrigue Ezra Pound only slightly and Ezra Pound imitators—if that’s indeed a possibility—more fervently. Never in my 23.5 years of life have I ever encountered choruses so jumbled with words. Innovation? Probably not. Less awkward than an eastern seaboard outfit could execute? Probably so.
Shipwreck is that of a dual creative force. It’s been my experience that this is a more fun, unpredictable listen. Whereas there is a profound desire to exude complex vocal ramblings alongside cavernous college rocking, there is also the less pretentious—or perhaps more pretentious—desire to simply rock out with one’s small indie nerd cock out. Down the street from the art school is the self-service gas station that offers the attendant all the time in the world to write songs about the people he sees in the midst of a druggy haze while the mechanics do clap rhythms for him. “Hi-Fi,” “House of Cards” and “Backbone” have the makings of roadhouse and arena ambitions. While “Hi-Fi” is a subdued black coffee hip-shaker, “House of Cards” is a stoned teenage makeout song for the bored but high-minded with the most intellectual of cock rock riffs and forceful rhythms. The drums are particularly cathartic and both bone-shaking and bone-shattering. “Backbone” rises from the familiar indie guitar wanderings into a classic rock synth line not unfamiliar to those who might like Manfred Mann. The lyrics of this songwriter are just as esoteric as that of the other one, but are structured in such a way that they can be followed more closely and maybe enjoyed that much more. His vocal style is less-refined and more blues-derived.
It seems that before Shipwreck must drown the listener, and I mean that most warmly, they too must draft the ocean. It is one with varying currents and distinct climates. At times it will drag one under into some cold blackness and spit one back up just as fast under a tinted twilight of sorts. Since I hate bodies of water I wouldn’t like to imagine what that would actually feel like. But thank God for those bands with nautically tragic names and pretty sounds that make it able for me to craft a metaphor out of it that will doubtless be as bloated and purple as the corpse of an actual drowning victim.