by Margaret Banka
Село (Selo) is the second EP to come from Tired Cossack, AKA Stiv Halas. Meaning “village” in Ukrainian (yes, I did have Google translate that,) the title sets the conceptual tone for the EP. A village provides a binate metaphor which can be soothing and stifling all at once: a support system of love, kinship, and friendship on one hand, but also a small, stagnant coop.
Appropriately set to the catchy and disarming charms of lo-fi bedroom rock, Selo speaks of the ebb and flow of feelings that flourish in this paradoxical landscape of thoughts.
The opening track “Solitaire” addresses the anxiety-riddled state of being caught between the crossfire of starry-eyed design and comfort: “Everytime I look outside/ I can’t move forward/ I just get freaked and I stay”. To stay or to go is the question at hand, which is also echoed in “Bubba”.
Escapism, something we are all familiar with these days, drives the quixotic climax in Selo, which manifests in “Dollywood”. The increasing tempo of the track transports the listener from mundane loneliness early on (“Me and myself/ Stuck here”) to the ultimate destination (“The glowing lights/ Dollywood.”) Halas admirably maintains the conflict between “here” and “there” by interjecting the lyrics about the grandiose Dollywood with morsels of a less glamorous reality, and you wonder if Dollywood is really all it’s cut out to be: “Eatin’ my meals/ At the gas station/ When your friends are gone”.
Halas effectively waters down all notions of schoolboy idealism particularly by illustrating the loss that lines the underbelly of yearning. This is heard in “XV”, a layered and dreamy track about conflicting heartsongs and regret, with the echoing lyric, “This is a mess now”. However, if the rest of the EP is about being pulled away, listeners will certainly feel the pull to come home to the immense nostalgia heard in the final track “Purple Tornados”. The level of tenderness– a reminder of the original “here”– completes the circle of diverse shifts of longing within the EP, filling the listener with the desire to be somewhere else, and nowhere else.
Село (Selo) is available on Bandcamp for download : https://tiredcossack.bandcamp.com/album/selo