I don’t think any fan of Will Sheff’s musical work to date (Okkervil River, Shearwater) would have expected the usually guitar-clad storyteller to have opted for a more electronic route on a solo outing, so it’s a surprise that Lovestreams seems to be a less organic sounding project, but a nice one, as “Shock Corridor” has no trouble assuring us. The song is based around glistening arpeggiated synths, synth bass looming in the shadows, and various other layers of effects mounting and falling with the tension of the song. The fear might be that a surrounding like this would be less hospitable for Sheff’s long-form and detailed lyrics, but “Shock Corridor” disproves this as the vocal comes through various filters and the detached delivery makes them even more potent.
As for the content of the lyrics, it’ll take some parsing to figure out every detail of what Sheff’s getting at here (like many of his best songs), but they are certainly intriguing. Posted in list form on his blog almost a week ago, the lyrics seem to be about a man in a contemplative and depressed state, evaluating himself. They touch on many topics from self-aggrandizing mockery (“The inventor of anger,” “The perfector of being distracted when someone is talking to you, but just slightly – super slightly”), self-hatred (“I’m sorry I was a shit”), personal unimportance (“I’m the Orange Crush can, crumpled in the woods, when the kid who tossed it is going through his third divorce”) and much more. This is all tied together by the teasing hook “I don’t care who you are and don’t care what you were – you can’t get away from the Shock Corridor,” which seems to be telling us that you’ll never be able to escape your own self-loathing.
It’s a dark song for a project called Lovestreams, but an encouragingly fascinating one that will have fans of Sheff’s work switched on and excited for the next installment.