bedroom pop has long since reached critical mass. although batches of home-recorded songs no longer automatically feel as reactionary as they did even just a couple of years ago, a handful of the genre’s purveyors consistently offer up invigorating bodies of work. alexei shishkin is one such bastion; after laying down a foundation of listlessness and loneliness on the dog tape last year, shishkin returns with yucca street, an inimitable collection of songs that once again peers into the many facets of a transient lifestyle.
much of yucca street feels like the aural manifestation of things you might think about while staring bleakly out of a passenger train’s window. shishkin wastes little time reaffirming his downtrodden demeanor; the opening bars of the album’s title track (“haven’t made a meaningful connection in years / everyone always disappears or is it me?”) emit in a mumbling, despondent baritone and firmly plateau across the subsequent ten tracks.
yet shishkin is never explicitly woe-is-me in his delivery. he hesitates, routinely second-guesses decisions, and diligently assigns blame to the appropriate party, even if it’s himself. it’s this diplomacy that helps yucca street transcend selfish, sad-sack trappings and navigate towards a realm of true introspection, embodying an almost-universal stream of consciousness that may be convenient to ignore but extremely beneficial to heed.
a handful of lighter moments do occasionally peer out through the gloomy haze that pervades yucca street. shishkin accomplishes this most notably through timbral juxtapositions, with pristine keyboard melodies jumping out of the buzzsaw foundations on tracks like “confidence” and “town,” but there’s also a nonchalant affect that creeps through his lyrics, as if his woes are in transit and haven’t yet reached their final destination.
on “carpal,” a song that has no business being as inherently catchy as it is, shishkin states his central thesis: “that’s fine with me.” those four words encompass every shoulder shrug, every acceptance of a less-than-favorable situation detailed on yucca street. he’s still able to carve transcontinental locations into poignant reflections – and “stuck” exhibits a tentative shishkin at his most vulnerable – but yucca street largely resonates as a handbook for dealing with transitions, a series of quick, calming anecdotes to help keep a level head in times of constant reflection.