At once droning and gentle, My Sister’s Fugazi Shirt’s album Double Date has tracked dirt into my bedroom. The overall feeling of the album is like a concert being held in a blanket fort. The human behind this project, Ryan of Philadelphia, sings in a hushed, nasal voice. It sits below purposeful chords and leveled drumming. His take on feeling the absence of someone dear is sarcastic and passive, as if he’s mocking the bare loneliness of his own lyrics. I get it, vulnerability is hard.
Soft acoustic guitars play almost in unison and the heavy delay on the electric guitar gives it the shoegaze stamp of recognition. A blend of folk, alternative, and straight up depression, is best served warm. And here, it is.
Part of me wonders who this album is for, 90s nostalgia notwithstanding. As his voice warbles along “The Only Reason I Like The Flaming Lips is Because of ‘Batman Forever’” seemingly independent of (or indifferent to) the song, I’m left with the impression that the music is more thought through, in terms of structure and arrangement, than the vocal parts. For me, the fact that vocals were recorded along to the music doesn’t necessarily add to every song on here.
My favourite tune here is “The Part In The ‘Such Great Heights’ Music Video Where They Turn Up The Emo Knob,” probably because it’s the most familiar-sounding to me. The lyrics truly embody the tension and precariousness of the person he wrote it about, as well as his own mental state– which leads me to believe the title of the record might refer to an unwelcome guest living inside each person. I also really like the guitar tones on the record overall—sort of reminiscent of a sparkling, west-coast sound, but much darker. “If I knew” has the strongest vocals or me, only because his sedated-sounding tone implies he believes what he is singing.
Interestingly, based on the music alone, this could be a solid enough pop record. The acoustic guitars sound really lovely, and I found myself closing my eyes and following the floating lead guitar melodies. What keeps it in the dog house for me is how the vocals are placed in the recordings themselves, and within some of the songs. While the lyrics seem honest (if a little tongue-in-cheek), the vocal delivery doesn’t really take itself seriously enough; it holds us at arm’s length of feeling the true black hole of isolation. Overall, I’d be interested to see how another year or two of development might benefit the music Ryan will make next.
Written by Hanorah
*edited by Kate Erickson