Camp Counselor is the project of St. Louis songwriter Mickey Yacyshyn. Their 2019 EP Scabs is composed of 6 tracks of twee and bedroom pop. These are tunes that wrap you up with warmth while you heal up from all the cuts and bruises you’ve been hiding. Melancholy and comfort are often at odds in these songs, which ultimately feels like you’re venting your frustrations to someone who’s willing to lend an ear.
Yacyshyn doesn’t shy away from her vulnerabilities in this record. She shows her wounds: “In plain view / so everyone can see / what you did to me” as explained in opener “Museum of Broken Relationships”. The instrumentation wraps up her voice with gentle rhythms, sympathetic arpeggios move carefully around her melodies, making it feel like a lullaby draped within a confessional.
“Cotton Mouth” comes in with more dissonance and noise, filled with erratic textures that cloud around Yacyshyn’s sunny melodies. In “Devil’s Advocate/Apathy”, suffering is laid out even more bare: “I’m so sick of crying / I don’t have anymore in me.” Both feel like a troubled mind trying to calm itself down. In a record about trying to heal our wounds, Camp Counselor covers not only the pain that’s skin deep.
“Black Crayon” follows the lives of two people over their formative years, recording memories like chapters in a book. It starts off as dreamy-eyed with the optimism of young love, yet what happens when relationships fade and things don’t turn out as planned? “I always thought you’d be in my life”, Yacyshyn sings achingly as she hovers over the idea of using scissors.
“Turning Songs Into Rituals” feels like an intimate bedroom pop recording with its washed out guitars and hushed vocal performance. There’s a Bob Ross sample inserted at both ends of the song, giving it a hint of solace as Ross entices us to embrace our mistakes and imperfections. The EP closes with “When It Counted”, a dreamy song celebrating the people who are there to pick you up when you’re down. A fitting ending for a record about healing.
Camp Counselor’s Scabs is a comforting EP full of sympathy and hope, one that does not shy away from the painful parts of our journey. Our wounds may hurt at first, but the scars they leave behind help us grow.