It's late on a Friday and I should be out and about, being social, meeting new people in my life, drinking, doing things that people my age do. Instead, I've listened to Get Well Soon's debut EP about six times. And it's almost scary when Andy Crissenger, the man behind the band, says, "I know you / I know you," in the opening track, because I think he really does.
When you're reviewing three CDs a week, you notice that bands often seem to walk a fine line between emotional sincerity and shock effect. The lump in my throat and my somewhat watery eyes tell me that Crissenger is quite sincere. His arrangements are more laid-back, sometimes structured on top of an interesting beat; his voice is sweet and melodic, in the spirit of Elliott Smith or Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard. Very little is forced; the songs neither fall into a huge pit of blaring entropy, nor meander into desperately slow tempos. While the melodies find a way to chisel themselves into your heart, their fluidity keeps each song moving.
It is the lyrics, though, that make Get Well Soon so stellar. Lines like "I'm tired of people; I'm tired of listening intently" and "I'm always ducking around corners / Mapping escape routes in my mind," seem to summarize the latter portion of my own existence -- but as he fills his songs with second-person references, Crissenger seems like he's talking to me, pacing around my room while no one else is here. And when he speaks of "them" and "the people", seeming to point to the endless number of social circles outside my window, how can I help but feel that I know him, too?
"The Worst February", The Green Room EP's opener, is the track that really gets to me the most. It makes me want to sit back and watch the world go by; it reminds me of Nick Drake, but without the romantic façade. "I'm dreaming of game shows / the kind with the doors in the background / and one's hiding the prize / the people are screaming / the viewers at home know the answers / they see them flashing across their sets." Sure, to some people this would be the ultimate elitist, anti-social, too-good-for-society rant, but Crissenger, amazingly, pulls it off.
"You're Not The One Who Should Be Sad" features a waltz beat with a stutter-step, and the lyrics are even more personal. The overall feel is almost sweet and caring, but shaded with melancholy, almost convincing me that Crissenger really does want me to get well soon. The next track, "A Smaller House", features a sitar-like lead and lyrics that could truly work in an anthology on their own, as he speaks of -- among other things -- the advantages of a smaller house. "Eyes Like Dying" gives us the contrast of a hopeful guitar and an ominous organ, as Crissenger's melodic vocals cuddle with your insides.
Moving from modestly depressing to cautiously hopeful, The Green Room EP comes to a very natural end. Working partly from a lead guitar effect that slowly smolders each note into infinity, the last track finds Crissenger making links between religion and sleeping, speculating about the future and making conclusions about the present. More importantly, the album leaves the listener as gently and well-constructed as it arrived.
Almost like folkloric elves, The Green Room EP begs to be experienced while no one else is around -- you should listen to it alone, on headphones. And when you're in that downtime mood, night has fallen and the stars are in the right position, it'll melt into a truly spectacular piece of beauty.