Before we start, it’s disclosure time. I know Racetrack. I don’t know them in the OMG we’re best friends and we hang out all the time kind of way, but in a we saw each other at a lot of the same shows in Seattle and identified with some similar bands kind of way. And really, I only know two of the three members in even that way. So, now that that’s taken care of, let’s talk about their new EP, Go Ahead and Say It.
When Racetrack first started out, the music was pretty tame, and so were the narratives. For example, “Assume There Is No Friction,” my favorite song off of their first EPs, is about a woman in love with a man who is “horrible to her.” They toughened up a bit for their full length, but there was stilll something very young and fresh about it.
Now here we are, at their last EP, which finds them angrier, rocking-er, stronger. This is evident by even just the first song, “Don’t Sit On The Pickets” — at 30 seconds in, Megan Kessinger sings, “in my town / watch your back if you can,” with a chorus that asserts “I don’t have a lot of eyes / ’cause I want friends, not spies / so it’s no surprise / that I’m packing up / I’ve had enough / goodbye.”
Racetrack has always had friends in high places. Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie produced their full-length, City Lights. For Go Ahead and Say It, Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger (and formerly of the Long Winters) adds some much needed vocal depth to “The War At Home” and “Sure Thing!,” two tracks that are especially palatable.
Racetrack: “Jumping The Shark” (download)
“Jumping The Shark” is the high point of the EP as far as the trio’s lyrical strengths go, with one of the more memorable choruses of recent memory:
we’ve both known all along / that I’d rather be left for a woman than a song / so go ahead and crawl your way to the top / but it’s lonely up there / yeah, it’s lonely I swear it / and promise me this: / please don’t call me when you get there
Racetrack: “Recidivism” (download)
But where Racetrack’s growth is most impressive lies within the final track, “Recidivism.” This is partly because I’m absolutely crazy about the guitar line that’s introduced at about the 50 second mark. It’s also because, overall, this just feels like their most complete, well put together song to date. Lyrically, it’s the perfect contrast to “Assume There Is No Friction.” They’ve gone from “foolishly she’ll still be there” to “I’m getting out / I’m going out / I’m already gone.” As the characters in their songs grew, so did the songs themselves, so did the band, so did I.
Fortunately for them, if Racetrack has to end, Go Ahead and Say It is one hell of a last impression. Unfortunately for us, it leaves us wondering what could have happened if they’d stuck around for just one more album.
Images courtesy of Racetrack’s MySpace profile