Now that I've had The Spine Surfs Alone EP for a little while and listened to it a fair amount I think I can say a few things about it. The title track was the kind of song that my brain doesn't really hear the first few times through. I like it rather more now, though, especially the way Flansburgh's voice morphs into the guitar parts.
Unquestionably, my favorite song on this album is Now is Strange. Linnell's vocal gyrations took a bit of getting used to at first, but hey, it's supposed to be strange after all, right? I think that the extremes to which he twists his voice add a very immediate, visceral feel to the song; I feel myself pulled into it much more than if he sang it straight. When he sings the word "unbelievable" in particular, I can practically feel the shape of it in my own mouth. It's wonderful.
I'm All You Can Think About is suitably obsessive with its constantly rising melody and bass lines. To me that seems like an interesting tie-in with the last verse of I Can't Hide From My Mind, at the end of The Spine, but in a greatly intensified way. The bridge that switches into the relative major is somewhat of a relief, like finally taking a full breath of air when you hadn't even realized you'd been holding your breath. But that relief just accentuates the intensity of the rest of the song, more so than if it had been absent.
Fun Assassin seems to fill a similar role for the EP as a whole, since it's the only major-key song on an otherwise very dark album. It's a big contrast to the following Skullivan, which I still think is just weird. The Other Side of the World is a tiny little instrumental that mostly makes sense because of the two songs it connects.
Canada Haunts Me is a good end to the EP, I think. It's another match for I Can't Hide From My Mind, and I like how each song ends its respective album with something a little quieter and more introspective. What I love about Canada Haunts Me is how perfectly they nailed the instrumentation and arrangment. It is not only haunting but evokes a feeling of wind whistling over huge expanses of barren tundra. Very nice.