Silverstein has taken a different trajectory throughout its career than most of the bands they came up with. They were part of a group of "screamo" or "post-hardcore" bands, or whatever you want to go ahead and call them, that got big in the middle of the 2000s. Discovering the Waterfront put them on the map; Arrivals and Departures continued their momentum; Shipwreck In the Sand was a cool concept record, but you could feel things growing stale; and Rescue was something of renewal for the punk aspects of the band's sound.
Silverstein has always toured with good bands, although they could have easily slipped into the wrong spectrum of the heavier music community. It seems natural for them to release Short Songs - a collection of 11 original songs and 11 old punk covers - although if one were to just listen to their most recent releases, it might not make sense. Rescue utilized a fair amount of punk influences, much like Discovering the Waterfront, and Short Songs is just Silverstein paying tribute to the bands it grew up on.
With a total of 22 songs but a run time of under 20 minutes, this is a quick listen. It's essentially an EP, but it's a fantastic idea and a great move for the band. The originals will appeal to both old fans and new listeners who check this out solely for the covers. At times, you wonder if Silverstein couldn't just take a step back and write a terrific Descendents-esque pop-punk record. Later in Short Songs, we actually get a Descendents cover - a neat and enjoyable take on "Coffee Mug." Other standouts are the NOFX cover of "It's My Job to Keep Punk Rock Elite" and the awesome Green Day cover of "The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink," where vocalist Shane Told sounds eerily like Billie Joe Armstrong.
In the end, Short Songs is a solid release for this band, but the most interesting aspect of it is wondering where the band will take its sound next. Personally, I think their tried-and-true format of half-sung, half-screamed vocals and breakdowns has seen its climax. I would love to see this band strip everything down, get into the Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson, and write a beastly punk/hardcore album. Or take a queue from your labelmates and record with Steve Evetts. You've covered American Nightmare before. You're covering NOFX and Gorilla Biscuits now. Silverstein, I've loved your band since the eighth grade - but for the sake of your continued relevance to older fans who have outgrown the "summer of screamo" and the likes of early Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Chiodos records - ditch your established (and slightly repetitive) sound, and make us a punk record. It seems like it's what you want to do anyway.