‘Sharp Tongue’ quickly immerses you in ‘Bleed’, a frayed picture of a song. Vocalist and guitarist Elise Cook plainly speaks, “you’ve got such a sharp tongue, you’re gonna hurt someone” as drummer Matthew Tiller supports and steadies the sentiment. It’s a piece of advice given from someone that has already been victim to it: be careful before you splice those you love. Soon ‘Bleed’ splits down the middle, it’s ventricles bursting, Cook lamenting “they don’t bleed for you”. Is that so much to ask for, for someone to open themselves to you?
It’s an opening track that cuts a path for the rest of the EP to step through. On ‘Vs. Self’ Cook keeps her own voice at a distance from the reverb as if truly coming from a higher place. Her singing is hazy and dreamy as she begs her past self to just slow down for a minute. With a retrospective grief she softly speaks “there’s years of my life I’ll never get back”. Cook is hovering just above the track, ascent. ‘Dust’ unfolds with a sparse piano that may seem out of place with the rest of the EP, but it’s sparseness invites a moment of oblivion. She brings a tender clarity here. ‘Sharp Tongue’ isn’t an explicitly sad EP, it has an ambition for recovery and change that is always peering over the ledge.
‘Day Job’ is knotted with optimistic teen desire, the critical bass line of Ross Becker guiding the daydream. Here Cook contemplates something more familiar, just running away and trying your luck. Once again she speaks with 20/20 hindsight, “there is nothing worse than never trying”. The track gleams even as Cook sings “my body feels so old to me”. There is a passionate will to live. ‘Cool Cadaver’ completely devolves, unhinging into a final crash, void of heat. It’s true catharsis – as a looming figure finally says its goodbyes, the song goes cold.
‘Sharp Tongue’ is compact and intimate, a 17 minute long exhale. But through the bellows of the EP, there is a youthful sweetness glinting just below the surface. ‘Sharp Tongue’ chronicles self-preservation and curiosity, never offering resolutions but simply feeling it all. Much like the Studio Ghibli figures the band is named for, the songs are extending their limbs to lift things far heavier than they initially seem capable of holding.