by Chad Jewett
As a brief interlude of smart, gauzy indie pop, Makeshift Shelters’ Overflowing recalls the sort of EPs that used to precede longer releases during the early-2000s golden age of Saddle Creek. And not simply because, like say There Is No Beginning to the Story or The Execution of All Things single, Overflowing is a brief prologue before Makeshift Shelters’ forthcoming debut full-length, though a title like “Overflowing” does imply “songs we couldn’t fit on the LP”. More importantly, the EP shares the sense of surprising scope and pop economy that made those releases (lets throw in the short records that preceded Rainer Maria’s second and third albums too) worth seeking out, the center of alternative-tracklist conversations wherein you’d try to figure out how “Take Me To The Hospital” didn’t make it onto Danse Macabre. And like “Emotional” or “Loose Leaves”, there’s a certain sparkle to these songs: the zoomed-in, shimmering tangibility of Ella Boissonnault’s synthesizer on “Overflowing” (not to mention the glittering Blake Sennett-esque trill of Andrew Clark’s chorus guitar); the grandly optimistic major key strum of “The Cautious End of Things”; the wide-open romanticism of “Lighter Fluid”, which turns from a sweeping verse to a nimble chorus.
There’s precedent for these sounds – the sorts of songs that end up on singles and 7”s and which you track down eventually and gradually pore over. But there’s also a way in which what Makeshift Shelters are beginning to do is as rare as hen’s teeth in contemporary emo. Not only, for instance, is “Lighter Fluid” spry and effusive and undeniably a joy to listen to. No, it’s also expertly written, with a marvel of a chorus and a sense of confidence and direction that has tended to go missing as most bands devote their energies to the math and science of post-hardcore and skip the humanities. Makeshift Shelters pay attention to melody, to the way words sound when turned into hooks. It makes the combined nine minutes of Overflowing quietly revelatory – the huge, swelling leap that the title track takes in its first verse, as well as the confidence to let the whole thing drift out into space on its airy, buoyant chorus (and again, that minimalist synthesizer is wonderful). You can count the three chords of “The Cautious End of Things”, but it’s the qualitative nature of what Makeshift Shelters does that’s hard to really define. It’s tough to capture anything besides the joie de vivre with which the band hopscotches through the song’s hooks and post-choruses. It’s also food for thought that these are the songs that didn’t make the next LP, great as they are. Or maybe Makeshift Shelters have that instinct going for them too – that part of the fun of loving a band is trying to figure them out.