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[Polyvinyl Records; 2011]

By ; February 3, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

When 2009 was all ready to be wrapped up and all the music-loving and internet-lingering people were compiling their end-of-year lists, I felt like one of a select few merely acknowledging the self-titled debut album from Starfucker. For all its inconsistencies, the album had its enjoyable moments and though many proclaimed the live shows were the only attractive feature of the band, I couldn’t dismiss them so easily. Maybe it was the fact that I had no hopes of them travelling across the ocean for a few shows in the UK or maybe it was just the way songs like “German Love” and “Pop Song” stuck in my head and had me returning to the album to be lifted up by these better moments.

And for those of us who hadn’t written Starfucker off completely, there was hope that they would get their shit together and sweep away their inconsistent side and write (at the very least) an album full of solid and catchy pop songs. And when “Julius” dropped last year, things looked up; even though the song was hazy and washed out at points, it’s was still a bit ferociously catchy and likeable.

The consensus then: Starfucker have changed somewhat but the same problems still exist. Whereas before the band could sound like a one-man affair caught up in his little drums machines and keyboards, on Reptilians the overall sound is strangely dehumanized. Synths are beefed up, live drums seem present for the majority for the time and guitars even jangle away on a few tracks but the whole thing feel depressingly robotic. Too often tracks don’t sound much like full songs but a riff blasted in your face in the prettiest coloured lights and drained until the bulb goes out. Sure, the band are about making pop songs most of the time and you don’t expect anything too challenging but too often ideas just go nowhere. “The White of Noon” repeats the same spaced-out synth section over and over with nothing more than a tamed distorted guitar effect in the middle while “Millions” is jaunty with its Nintendo-esque keys but again, there’s not really beyond the actual riff.

And this is where the same existing problems for the band become noticeable, mainly the inconsistency of the material over an album’s length. And unfortunately the best stuff is used up in the first half of the album, leaving the latter six songs to remain largely forgettable. “Julius” is tweaked slightly so that the bass warbles that bit more noticeably and the vocals come off clearer but the song is still as catchy as it was last year. The album’s opening track, “Born,” is also a joyful affair mixing acoustic strums with processed beats, flickering synths and warming harmonized vocals making the album’s first moments upbeat and impressionable. But after the insistent but again catchy “Death as a Fetish” things don’t really hit the same high and tracks like “Hungry Ghost” or the aforementioned “Millions” just seems like a last grab attempts to catch your attention. I’ll concede that the midnight 80’s feel to “Mona Vegas” is a nice diversion from the chipper songs around it and the “Quality Time” is an exceptionally promising album closer but the latter merely suffers from being too short. When everything hits just after the halfway mark the volume seems turned up a notch and I’m suddenly ready to listen again but then it all just fades away. Had they let this fanfare go on for at least another minute and gave me another crescendo I could turn off the album thinking that there’s still hope for the band.

But it kind of pains me to say that the hope is fading. I know the band can write damn good songs and they have proven that before and prove it here, but until they address the main problems (the still heavily reverberated vocals for one) or really venture out into something different (there is life beyond pasting snippets from philosophy lectures) I think history will keep repeating itself for these guys. And in all honesty, it kind of sucks to have a band you have faith in fuck you over time and time again.


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