Strange Symmetry EP ( Suicide Squeeze, 2008 )
Unslushed because: The lyrics looked kind of cool: I liked “Take me to the bank, I’ve gotta beg for a loan/A three-year lease with the option to buy a brand-new skull.”
Factors not initially considered: The glum overall financial outlook has led me, on the one hand, to wonder whether any of this stupid crap matters. But on the other hand, it has created, unquestionably, a new mood—and unfamiliar moods are best explored and amplified by good music.
On further review: Music can illuminate confusion. Barring that, music can take something boring and make it confusing: At least confusion is more interesting than boredom. Past Lives takes the latter road here, plowing through five songs that feel like twenty. And if it’s also the marginally lower road, it’s pretty great if you feel like screaming. Over a frantically racing, sometimes grinding transmission, the band buttresses its angular, shouted art punk with some surprising hooks—the lyric above, from “Skull Lender,” is a great little bridge—and flourishes (Waitsian marimba chug on “Beyond Gone,” groove mekanik on “Chrome Life”). Whether I actually like it is beside the point: If I don’t like the way I’m feeling right now, Past Lives are all too happy to up the uncertainty. I guess that’s comforting in its own way.