Shoestrings is Mario and Rose Suau, a husband and wife duo, from the northern suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Shoestrings was formed as a true bedroom pop project in the mid-90s when the two were in college. For Mario and Rose, their primary intent for starting a band has always been to write, record, and produce memorable songs with relatable, heartfelt sentiment. The Shoestrings aesthetic is a meticulously-crafted filigree of washy guitars, soft synths, pensive vocals, and thoughtful lyrics.
After releasing their debut album, Wishing On Planes, and appearing on several notable indie compilations, Mario and Rose took a long hiatus to evolve their production skills and to pursue other music projects.
This fall, Shoestrings resurfaced with their long-awaited sophomore album, Expectations. Sonically, the album draws on several genres: indie pop, dream pop, shoegaze, and sophistipop to create their own matured, distinctly sensitive sound. The collection of songs is a delicate and wistful reflection on past events and lessons learned.
The album is released by Shelflife Records (North America), Discos de Kirlian (Europe), and Fastcut Records (Japan) and it’s magnificent!
What They Say on Gone:
Mario: “When starting to work on Expectations, we thought we’d try to come up with a simple, fast 2-chord song and see where it would take us. Gone quickly emerged with a bassline that we thought sort of resembled something The Wake would have played on Here Comes Everybody. We decided to start the song with a drum beat very similar to the title track from that album as an homage to them and the song took off from there”.
Rose: “Gone explores all the feelings one might experience when encountering a love interest from the past. Maybe the timing wasn’t right before, or they were dating something else, so you think, “Is this time any different? Is this going to work out?” When you get to a certain age, you start to look for someone who will be with you for the long run. Also by that time, you’ve learned a ton of hard lessons, so if you’re wise enough, you can walk yourself through the probable outcome, see the warning signs, and avoid disaster entirely”.
On Forgive You:
Mario: “This song all started with a chorus of a song that was in one of my dreams. The lyrics didn’t make sense in the dream, but the melody did. When I woke up, I kept singing the chorus in my head so that I wouldn’t forget it, then I recorded it acapella on my phone. Later that day, I was able to figure out the chords to the chorus so I could play it for Rose. My original lyrics ended with “I need to forget you”. Rose thought of changing it to “I don’t need to forgive you” and that drove the direction of the rest of the lyrics for the song”.
Rose: “I wrote this song shortly after I had finished working on a synth/dance project called “Djustin” with my friend, Johan. Djustin was intended to be very polished, measured, and electronic sounding, and for over two years I existed only in that headspace. So once Mario and I started working on Shoestrings again, I felt I needed to decompress, wipe the slate clean, and go back to basics. “Everything” started out very sparse with just piano and voice and minimal percussion, and we rearranged it several times before arriving at the album version. At the core, it’s about knowing when to let go of something that isn’t meant for you. The best and worst part about being an adult is learning to recognize this, sometimes repeatedly. Oftentimes, letting go is the best gift you can give yourself”.
Varamon – Juni
Varamon is the new solo musical project by Fredrik Hultin from Malmo, Sweden. He was formerly in Fredrik, The LK and The Lovekevins who are all equally brilliant. So far, he’s only released a few singles as Varamon and they’re all really good. A little less dark than Fredrik, but still unmistakably him.
Rachel Love – Easter Song
Rachel Love of Dolly Mixture has released an album called “Picture In Mind”. She recorded it with her late husband, Steve Lowell and it is one of my favorite albums of this year. This song had me in tears the first time I heard it. Gorgeous!
Vetchinsky Settings – Passenger
Vetchinsky Settings is Mark Tranmer of The Montgolfier Brothers and James Hackett of The Orchids, 2 of my favorite bands. I only recently realized that they released a double LP at the end of 2019 called “Underneath The Stars, Still Waiting” and it sounds like a perfect combination of the 2 bands.
The Beloved – Don’t You Worry
When I was in my senior year of high school, Rose made me a mixtape and it featured much of The Beloved’s “Happiness” album. This song stood out to me at first because of the key change at the end of the song and the strings that reminded me of The Blue Nile. Later, as our friendship was evolving into something more, the lyrics of this song drew me in and took on a special meaning to me.
Stina Nordenstam – Murder in Mairyland Park
No one has had a greater influence on me as a lyricist than Stina Nordenstam. Her voice is unlike any other on this planet. Each of her albums is so different, and they seem to reflect whatever preoccupied her mental state at the time. The song arrangements vary from simple guitar or piano to songs that build gradually with layered strings, muted trumpet or jazz saxophone, and haunting chorales. Her sweet, fragile voice is somewhat of a foil for the complicated, evocative, and dark subject matter of her lyrics. Many of her songs are about tragic things that happened in real life. This song appears on the album “And She Closed Her Eyes”. I haven’t been able to find out much on the true backstory and if this is based on a real case. I interpret the lyrics to be about a stalker watching his next victim from afar. Musically, my favorite part of this song is when the driving percussion comes in along with the ethereal choir. Along with the lyrics, it’s all so beautiful, haunting, and sad.
Andy Shauf – Covered in Dust
It’s a little odd, but in my mind, I see so many similarities in the songwriting styles of Andy and Stina. Andy is the Stina equivalent to me, except he’s a guy and Canadian (we love Canada!) I probably tend to romanticize him a bit, but I’m in perpetual awe of how brilliant a storyteller he is. His lyrics are frank and heartbreaking. It’s clear that he is a keen observer of the human condition in the subtlest ways. He also writes and plays all of the instruments: piano, organ, bass, drums, even clarinet on all of his songs. Only Andy could make clarinet cool! “Covered in Dust” originally appeared on the album The Bearer of Bad News and that arrangement is pretty sparse – just guitar and some strings. I recently found this updated version of it which I absolutely adore. It’s a departure from his sound because it has vintage synth elements and minimal electronic percussion – it’s very reminiscent of The Blue Nile to me (they are a huge influence on us). It makes the lyrics about eternally pining for someone so much more poignant.
Blueboy – Love Yourself
This is hands down my favorite Blueboy song. The chords are so beautiful and hearing them makes me immediately feel sentimental. I love these lyrics, “You need to let go, it’s not forevermore. Be practical and love yourself…” I feel like this is about a necessary separation that had to happen, but it was all for the best. It’s like realizing you need to evolve on your own. I actually have a jacket with “Love Yourself” stitched on the back and it always makes me think of this song, and also what a beautiful soul Keith was. We were fortunate enough to have him write the liner notes of our first album, and it always makes me sad that we never met in person.
Rebe – Si Mirarte es delito q me lleven a prision
Rebe is definitely unlike any other artist I know of right now. She inhabits her own little universe, adorned with velvet, ribbons, and kittens. Her aura and music manage to be both naive and coquettish at the same time, but also quirky and humorous in the very best way (who else can incorporate meows into songs?). The title of this song translates to “If looking at you is a crime, take me to prison”. At the heart, I think the songs are meant to be cheeky and fun, along with the visual world that Rebe curates. It’ll be interesting to see what she does next. She is a rare gem.
Expectations is out now on Shelflife Records, Discos De Kirlian and Fastcuts Records. Look HERE for more information on Shoestrings.