I'm Sorry It Might Not Have Happened This Way
Passionate lo-fi folk ballads conveyed in a reservedly energetic fashion and with an impish sense of humor are the specialty of The Shitty Friends of Saint Louis, Missouri. I'm Sorry It Might Not Have Happened This Way, their debut full-length album, evokes the genuine warmth, the leaden-eyed despair, and the childish appetite of the Shitty Friends in it's nine songs and two skits. "Waiting For The Ghost" introduces the album thoughtfully and somberly, and highlights the melodica that will reappear often throughout the remainder of I'm Sorry. The song concludes with some fiery wailing and incensed drumming, introducing the recurrent device, found on several or most of the album's tracks, of placing sections of smooth crooning side-by-side with distinct and principally percussive (but not unwelcome or cacophonous), and often a cappella, segments. "Funeral Song" is second, and further belies the elegiac song titles, remaining at times solemn, at others upbeat through a number of major key-minor key variations. It also extends the sometimes-exotic instrumentation of the band with xaphoon and melodica interplay over cascading arpeggiated guitar. Duties of the band are frequently switched-up, though all three members share vocals, whistles, and percussion for the duration of I'm Sorry; the xaphoon heard is the work of Jaffa Aharonov, who also divides the adept and driving guitar duty with Jay Thompson. Maggie Ginestra completes the trio with pepperings of melodica. While "Skit: First Pets" solidifies the underlying humor of the album with all three members simultaneously relaying the story of their first pets for half a minute, it's "Goldfish" that gives us the first obvious taste of playful songcraft with it's lyrical dialogue of affection in days past and occasionally staccato melodica parts. "One Red Leaf" later offers a dirge not only for the album, but for the summer now giving way to the fall, and for passages of life now behind us, with an emotive and heartfelt lead vocal by Ginestra backed by Aharonov's echo-chamber moan-singing and Thompson's steady jangly guitar-work. While they may take a musical cue from antecedents as diverse as Diana Ross, Ween, Daniel Johnston, the Beach Boys, Bellafea, and Au, there is a unique and calculated contrivance in the musical inconsistencies and approximated harmonies that The Shitty Friends make with unusual, home-made, or half-functional instruments and zealous vocal work.