Century Egg Dance Down an Existential Spiral on 'Little Piece of Hair' EP

BY Leslie Ken ChuPublished May 6, 2021

Century Egg's Little Piece of Hair is a joyful rebellion for those trapped in their minds. With most people confined to their homes, too, the six-song EP provides sweet release for all their pent-up energy. The Halifax quartet project their exuberant, rough-around-the-edges racket in an attempt to bring down the mental and physical walls around them.

Like Century Egg's 2020 EP, We Can Play, their latest offering contains no shortage of earworms. Shane Keyu Song's voice still bobs atop Robert Drisdelle's thick-cut — and cutting — guitar lines like a buoy behind a speeding boat. But on Little Piece of Hair, the band's new rhythm section, drummer Meg Yoshida (Not You) and bassist Matty Grace (Cluttered, Future Girls), steers Century Egg in a heavier direction.

Little Piece of Hair races around the themes of discovering oneself as a path to freedom and of self-actualization under trying circumstances. The EP teeters on a line between joy and despair as thin as, well, a strand of hair. "Ring a Bell" is a crunchy blast of pop-punk in the vein of Tacocat. Throughout the track, Song basically repeats three lines: "Ring a bell," "Let's go to the studio," and "I'm happy today." Just do what brings you joy, her words suggest. But given the weight of the rest of the EP, it's hard not to hear denial every time she sings, "I'm happy today."

Song feels the push and pull between confidence and her destructive imagination on the battle cry "I Will Make Up a Method." The track marches with hearty determination. "I got time / I got dedication / I am full of patience / I know what to practice," she sings before pledging to conquer the enemies within herself. By the end, she runs out of time and patience, declaring, "Now it's time for action."

"Do You Want to Dance?" is a full-on sprint into the deep abyss. Song questions the purpose of life, asking "Does it all have meaning? / Why do we do the things the way we do?" and "Do you think we are doing it right?" Meanwhile, she's "dressed to the nines," wasting her nights away downtown. Century Egg are heading down a spiral staircase of existentialism, but they're dancing every step of the way to the very bottom.

The narrator on "Do You Want to Dance" beams, "We're going on an odyssey." In the same spirit, the title track's lyrics follow a curious, adventure-seeking little piece of hair. Like Song's joyful, rebellious soul, "A little piece of hair will never die," she sings on this full-throttle gut-punch. It's a callback to go-for-glory anthems of classic rock'n'roll.

The EP burns fast upfront, but the musical tone changes in its last two tracks. "Riddle to Place" drags its feet into "Cornered," the EP's only track sung in Mandarin. Like the best post-punk, "Cornered" is sharp-edged and danceable because of, not despite, its brooding urgency. Here, Song fears the unknown and feels she's running out of steam to make it to tomorrow, but she tries her best not to worry. Though lyrics don't translate precisely between Mandarin and English, her key sentiment remains: "What's the use thinking about it? / It's yesterday, it's tomorrow."

According to Century Egg, Little Piece of Hair celebrates the changes life delivers. That's where the EP might fall short — listeners' lives didn't just change over the last year, they got uprooted and flipped upside down and inside out. But even for them, at the very least, Little Piece of Hair could help find the small graces. After all, it only takes a pinhole of light to see the end of the tunnel.

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