A little over a minute into “Psycho,” a short but impactful new song by the psych-folk duo small town sci-fi (all lowercase,) we hear the song’s title. “Psycho, they call us psycho, because we couldn’t talk the same,” vocalist Anthony sings. (The two members are referred to as only Kim and Anthony in supplemental material.) His voice has a flat, earnest quality, not unlike Phil Elverum, and “Psycho”’s cozy, ramshackle sound wouldn’t sound out of place on an old Microphones album. But the song’s story and emotion is clearly the duo’s own, and even at just under two minutes it packs a punch.
The line I quoted in the first paragraph sticks with me the most. It’s not that the song’s narrator wouldn’t talk the same as everyone else, or refused to out of principle. He can’t be the same as everyone else; he’s simply incapable of doing so. It’s left ambiguous as to whether or not the narrator made much of an effort to fit in, but in any case he sounds at peace with where he is now: “any other way to be is alien to me, as far as I can see.”
I’ve written about being on the autistic spectrum before, and that kind of sentiment is something that rings true to me. When I was younger, I was blessed with an enormous vocabulary and cursed with total obliviousness as to whether or not people knew what I was talking about. Combined with my general lack of a filter, it resulted in a lot of confused looks and rolled eyes. (I don’t blame them, for the record: I was pretty insufferable.) I knew on some level that I wasn’t normal, but it didn’t occur to me to act any differently; if it did, I would have been miserable and given up in two days.
“Psycho” isn’t exactly a happy song, and there’s a sense that something has fallen apart before the song even started: “Oh, we had it all/We had it all in our own way,” Anthony sighs. But there’s also a quiet acceptance of these circumstances, an acknowledgment that being on your own again may not be the worst thing in the world. After all, it’s gotten them this far.