Shirese – Rose Of Smiling Faces LP
Shirese returns with their second album! Like their debut it is difficult to refer to this as their sophomore release given that they have previously released an additional 19 cassettes and CDr’s dating back to 2015, many of which are of LP length… but here we are.
Rose Of Smiling Faces sees Shirese expanding upon and branching out from the territory established on Three Going On Four. Side A starts with a Velvet’s type swagger on “Kept It Truckin’” before melting into a sort of amorphous bizarro clatter. The tracks that follow further show off the group’s songwriting chops, while tape manipulations display their tendency towards off-kilter experimentation. The side’s final song, “I Feel It,” is perhaps the group’s finest to date, with wonderful Big Star-esque acoustic lines creating the perfect backdrop for their biggest rock move electric leads yet. Throughout this side, and especially on the closing track, band leader Matt Paolillo’s always clever and idiosyncratic lyrics are on full display, coloring the mood and feel of every track with witty intensity.
As the record flips listeners will find Shirese diving into a sort of quasi jazz flourish. The rock unit is met with xylophone and upright bass, while samples and vocals interchange until it is no longer clear which is which. This departure clears the palette just enough to bring on “The Oval Sun,” a 14+ minute psychedelic foray. Guitars rip while samples swirl through the stereo spectrum disorienting listeners until it all collapses, only to hit right back into its rocking stride, only skipping a beat or three.
Once again Shirese has brought us a full album of hit songs and vital experimentation that is chalk full of raw energy and emotion. As the band progresses it is clear to see that they are continuing to push their own boundaries. They blend the worlds of rock and experimental music in a manner few dare attempt, and the results set them above and beyond the hoards too scared to dig in, let go and drop out.
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