Bits of Alan is a band from West Chester, PA that are composed of three childhood friends who recently released an EP entitled Stories. The three-piece play acoustic emo based songs that are covered in the existential dilemmas that would plague someone in their early 20’s. It’s hard not to think of the undisputed king of this style of music Conor Oberst when listening to Stories. The songs on Stories drip with the same type melancholy and in reality will attract the same audience.
The album opens with one of the strongest songs entitled “Paper Hearts.” It’s obvious that whoever is singing put some time into the lyrics. It follows a loose narrative but also goes into lyrical territory that feels reminiscent to Oberst. The vocalist sings about remembering this and remembering that event while also detailing some of his innermost feelings. He sings, “if you can lie here next to me then maybe I can sleep tonight / Oh that would be alright by me and tell me you were serious the night you kissed so I could be alright.”
“I Decided” is a spoken word piece that contains ambiguous poetry that feels like it’s being read by a disgruntled college student who just took his first philosophy class and still doesn’t quite understand his feelings or others or how any of this crazy world makes any sense. I can picture this piece done in a coffee shop that resides right by the quad.
“Open Doors” is the highlight on the EP. It’s the first track that relies on the music just as much as the lyrics and pays off because of it. The song revolves around simple chords, drums and bass - nothing too fancy but the vocal melody is a catchy solid pop that shows some potential.
The last track “Untitled” is a mix between overly serious spoken poetry and decent songwriting. From what I can make out he says lines like “I wake up in the dark and find I'm the only one in existence - I've been with my imaginary friend all along I can't believe I missed it” as if he is deep in thought and about to shed a tear for humanity.
Overall, Stories is mixed. First the bad; the poetic spoken word may appeal to lost souls of a younger generation but often come off as sophomoric and pretentious. I think it’s more than normal to be flooded with too much information when you're young and it’s obvious that the singer is trying to put it all in perspective. Nothing wrong with that but the vocalist here not only sounds young but also as if he’s got it all figured out in the form of circular ramblings and metaphors.
Stories does have some decent tunes and the most successful “Open Doors” should be a style that they outline in the future. They will be able to get away with almost any lyrics they want if people can hum along to it.
Bits of Alan is a case of wait and see.
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