Right or wrong, many artists nowadays are more focused on churning out hit singles than making a full album as an entire body of work. But not Karah Goldstein, the woman behind Long Island indie project Smol Data.
Smol Data’s debut album, Inconvenience Store, out May 14 on Open Door Records, is meant to be listened to in its entirety, from front to back. Goldstein says this is because she wanted to display the wide range of sounds and styles she is capable of creating.
“The biggest thing to me is the songs sound very different and showcase my range of genres,” she says. “Those are my favorite records ever, the ones where every song is totally different. And that’s what I tried really hard to do with this.”
Inconvenience Store is a massive-sounding album, with many intricate layers of instrumentation. This is no accident. Goldstein spent hours poring over the music, adding layers, editing and revising until she had created something truly special and uniquely her own.
“I started recording this at the beginning of 2019,” she says. “And I redid everything literally 50 something times, and just kept building it up and adding more, and making it bigger and bigger, and then I finally handed it over to Billy Mannino [of Oso Oso] September of 2020.” Mannino mastered the record.
Lyrically, the album picks apart Goldstein’s experience with DIY, and all the scene politics and drama that comes with spending your 20s in alternative communities. She has a sense of humor in the way she approaches these topics. On “Salaried,” she takes inspiration from a popular Blink 182 song, turning the story around and telling it from the perspective of a different character.
“I was listening to ‘The Party Song’ by Blink 182,” she says. “Where Mark [Hoppus] is like ‘I went to this party, and I met this girl, and she’s fuckin’ nuts. And it just reminded me how crazy girls are.’ I was like, I should write a song from the perspective of that crazy girl [laughs].”
When live shows return, Smol Data will undoubtably be a sight to behold. But given the time away from performing, Goldstein feels nervous about returning to the stage.
“I’m terrified, ’cause again, I haven’t been playing live shows in years now,” she says. “Way before the pandemic started, I took a break from playing live shows to make this record. I’m scared shitless to play these songs live.”
Many musicians and artists feel the same way, though few are vulnerable enough to admit it. And above all else, this is what makes Smol Data such an exciting band: honesty. Inconvenience Store is vulnerable and honest, with an uncompromised authenticity that makes it irresistible.
Listen to “Emotional Labor Day” here:
Photo courtesy of Smol Data.