This is it—the end of Racetrack. They recently played their final two shows, wrapping up an era and releasing their final EP, Go Ahead & Say It. The release party and goodbye party were combined and split into two locations: Seattle and the group’s hometown of Bellingham, WA. Knowing that the end was upon them, it is a common theme rampant throughout the EP, trickling from the opening track, “Don’t Sit On The Pickets” to the closer, “Recidivism.”
Go Ahead & Say It is the trio’s first release since the 2004 full-length City Lights and it is apparent that the group have since matured as songwriters. As a whole, Racetrack continues to keep the songs punchy and tight, teetering between pop and rock. The album is just as loud as City Lights, but some tracks, like opener “Don’t Sit On The Pickets,” are a bit more restrained than previous recordings. “Don’t Sit On The Pickets” draws most reference to the final days of Racetrack and Meghan Kessinger’s lyrics hone in on that theme: I hope you’ll understand why / I’m packing up / I’ve had enough / Goodbye. Her voice is clear and powerful, despite a somewhat short stature compared to the towering figures of bassist Chris Rasmussen and drummer Jackson Long.
For “The War At Home”, Kessinger splits vocals with Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger) while Rasmussen and Long join in the background, shouting into microphones as they play. Nelson takes the lead during the verse while Kessinger backs him sellectively and returns for the chorus. Like “The War At Home”, “Sure Thing!” also plays on harmony vocals with Kessinger in the lead and the others backing her selectively throughout the song. One of the louder tracks on Go Ahead & Say It, “Sure Thing!” also hints at the end, as Kessinger repeats Run away and, toward the end, talks about regret and growing older.
“Jumping The Shark” is one of the more catchy tracks off Go Ahead & Say It and much of this is thanks to Kessinger’s vocals in the chorus: So go ahead and climb your way to the top / But it’s lonely up there / Yeah it’s lonely I swear it / Just promise me this / Please don’t call me when you get there. For the chorus, it sounds like Kessinger doubles up on her own vocals for a very nice effect. “Recidivism” finishes the album with more strong hints of the end: So I’m getting out / I’m going out / I’m already gone… And with those lyrics, Racetrack is no more.
Go Ahead & Say It is a striking closure to one of the greater bands to surface from Bellingham, WA. And that northwest Washington college town is known for producing good bands. With their final EP, Racetrack goes out strong, providing audiences with five memorable tracks that only a lucky select few were able to see live. Racetrack: you will be missed.
This review was originally published October 31, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
1. Don’t Sit On The Pickets
2. The War At Home
3. Sure Thing!
4. Jumping The Shark