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CD Review: Owen

The Seaside EP (Polyvinyl)


There's no doubt that Mike Kinsella, the man behind the sad acoustics of Owen, carries a bruised psyche and sutured heart wherever he goes. Two things separate him from the blatant heartstring-tuggers: his attention to detail, which allows him to produce lyrical variations on woe-is-me tropes with the grace of Morrissey, and his depth as a musician, which he's displayed since he fronted math-rocking, emo cult-heroes American Football. The Seaside EP shows off these two qualities admirably. Kinsella hits on minutiae like overbites and lost weight ("I Woke Up Today"), sharing the flu ("A Fever") and the contents of his favorite lunch ("In the Morning Before Work"), while his guitar work is complex and shimmering. The result is a hushed middle ground between instrumental guitar records and the pop of Elliott Smith. The cover of Extreme's "More Than Words" may recall awkward open-mic-night moments a bit too much, but otherwise Kinsella continues to improve his craft by exploring the facets of his melancholy life. — Matt Whelihan

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