The Short Stories: Send My Love To Everyone (Breaking Down Recordings)
What happens to angry young men when they’re not that young anymore? Rob McNamara finds out from The Short Stories.
Everybody knew the affronted young teenager with a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to be in a punk band that played hard and harshly. He wrote lyrics that spat bile about the government, his boss and anyone who had the audacity to question his view of the world. As the years went by, he met a girl, got married, had kids and took an office job.
He started hearing and seeing things differently. His music tastes changed from the Sex Pistols and the Clash to breezy and clever guitar pop. His bile became cynical, yet detached observations and now he lightly chuckled at the ridiculousness of life rather than trying to change the system in vain. Then, one day, he picked up his guitar again. I can only presume this is what The Short Stories are alluding to on the track Angry Young Man, Send My Love To Everyone’s centre piece. It’s an enchanting ditty that will brighten even the dullest of moods with its tinkly piano and trumpet.
The album bobs along inoffensively yet pleasingly at times. It ventures into Small Faces and Belle and Sebastian territory via Hammond organ and sparse brass that has you thinking of Rico Rodriguez. These are little kitchen sink vignettes that allude to the mundanity of life without trying to glorify it. Like everyday life though, not everything goes to plan here.
There are endearing songs about tabloid editorial content, confusing mobile phones, love, footballers’ escapades and even a mention for misquoted Morrissey lyrics. On Short Stories For Long Nights the protagonist from Angry Young Man has happily reached middle age and the tone has become acquiescent. Are You Listening Now and Let Me See You Smile follow similar lyrical and musical themes.
However, Bridges, The Robin Song and Angry Young Man (Reprise) are far too lengthy and arduous to retain anything but a passing interest as the record veers into terrain that is flat and needlessly repetitive.
Burrow through all that though and you reach the apex of the album on Make Me Happy, with its airy acoustics and 50s guitar break that is enhanced by harmonica and trumpet. This is the track that will hook you in – its simplicity is infectious.
Overall these songs are more suited to the three-four minute pop capers that colour the album rather than the lengthy, needless jams that do nothing but draw things out and underwhelm. As the once angry young man settles down to a yielding existence, he loses a bit of focus. There’s a really good record in here, it just slightly oversteps the parameters.
The Short Stories can be found on Facebook and BandCamp and the album can be bought via the widget on the right (if you can’t see the widget disable your ad blockers & consider leaving them so – we need to cover our web hosting costs somehow!)
All words by Rob McNamara. More work by Rob on Louder Than War can be found here.