Complicated Shirt - Strigine (Cover Artwork)

Complicated Shirt

Strigine (2004)


I've read some reviews that praise this record as some sort of second coming -- in the form of an ultra dirty indie rock‘n'roll record, but, honestly, I have no idea what the hell they're talking about. Just because you have shit production and an amazing amount of fuzz covering everything does not make you the next Guitar Wolf. Especially with the lofty pretentiousness of the lyrics, which even though they cannot be fully backed by the music, do come off as intelligent and scathing at times. The record just doesn't stand out whatsoever and at times the production just makes it unlistenable as there are no rewards for the dealing with the painful production.

The whole vision of the record is fairly straight-forward: Play as dirty and raw as you can but slip in as much melody as possible, then add a vocalist that's purpose is only to spit insults without regard to tune. It's not a terribly exciting mixture, nor do Complicated Shirt add enough elements to keep things interesting throughout the whole record and thus it can drag horribly. To be fair though, the lyrics are interesting (albeit straight-forward); on the opener "Pitch Doctor Slogan" the vocalist offers up lines such as "Do you have a heartbeat / I don't think that you do / You need a computer to keep you in tune / It wasn't a god but a machine that made you / Just know who you are, so know that we hate you / Just cuz it exists don't mean you use it / And you don't fucking care that you're ruining music." The lyrics keep things interesting, and are certainly well thought out, but in the end it feels as if it's simply a little kid's tantrum in a world that cares little. This music isn't so far removed or noteworthy as to back up these scathing remarks with true challenges. Instead we get music layered under a shitty production with a ton of fuzz and seemingly drunken vocals. But what ends up hurting more than the failure of ammo to back up the claims is the fact that this just does not rock -- at all. This won't make anyone want to go crazy or whatnot.

The second track "We Are the World" starts off as the first leaves off, with some melodic underpinnings, all thrown behind a haze of fuzz. The drums are what you'd expect from a garage rock band, and end up blending together into the background. The vocals are all sung with that raw, untouched and out-of-tune fashion, but it doesn't matter as they obviously don't worry about trying to sound nice.

The rest of the album sounds all the same, and by the end it just drags. The production seems lost on this, and there are better places for lo-fi rock that actually rocks (the aforementioned Guitar Wolf is a good start). While the lyrics provide some excellent commentary (and social thrashing) on the current scene, the music doesn't help its credibility. But to be fair, this band is still new and this is self-released, so hopefully they can better manipulate their sound to capture the essence of what they're preaching: unbridled rock.