Review by Floris Groenewald (@Flrsi)
Photos by Hanro Havenga
I’m pretty sure someone has described Shortstraw as immature. Maybe they used “youthful” as a euphemism, but they were probably pointing out their energetic, tongue-in-cheek sensibilities which seem to encourage wild parties (‘Mo Money’), irresponsibility (‘Breaching the Barrier of Overindulgence’ & ‘Gimme My Fix (It’s Only Recreational)’), and silly humour (‘The Wedding Blues’ & ‘Keanu Reeves’).
On their third full-length album, ‘Youthless’, the intro title track seem to describe a melancholy, uncertain realisation of growing older. Later, ‘Until Your Head Hits My Pillow’, encourages heavy drinking, but again questions “acting your age”, “how much is too much?”, and the demise of partying/drinking ability with age.
Though themes of growing up is prevalent throughout the album, it also celebrates youth and irresponsible fun. ‘Heaps Keen’, apparently influenced by Australian band Dune Rats who visited our shores in 2013, is all about late nights and “sneaking around”. ‘High School’ is probably the most electric and energetic you’ve ever heard this band. How else are would you do a sarcastic tribute to high school teachers?
On the flipside, Shortstraw also has some sincere, earnest, and sober songs, just like on their previous albums. Tracks like ‘When You’re Angry’ sound real and honest, without losing the upbeat fun that you’ve come to love and expect from them.
Looking beyond lyrical themes, this album is an interesting progression for the band. While it sounds familiar, they’ve spread their wings and branched out a bit. Genre-wise, it’s more experimental and diverse, while the general tone of the album is still the same old mix of fun, humour, sincere emotions, and indie rock riffs, rhythms, and beats. Fans of Shortstraw will certainly love this album, while more diversified songs like ‘High School’ or ‘Good Winter’ might score them some new interest from fans of other genres. This band has definitely grown up, but it sounds like they can still party just as hard as when they started.