Friday, February 15, 2013

Starfucker: walk, don't run, on Miracle Mile

Starfucker - "Miracle Mile"
Polyvinyl Records
- out Feb. 19
3.5 / 5

It's pounding, dance bass. Catchy synth and guitar licks. Whispy, dream-pop vocals. It's the return of Starfucker, which, after 2011's bursting with hep-ness Reptilians, is much welcome. Now enter Miracle Mile, the third full-length by the Portland, OR quartet; expect the same groove-on-down m.o., the same pop catchiness, except tuned to a slower, more confident beat. In fact, the foursome takes much of the Reptilians pop-formula and just slows it down, takes it in slower sips instead of chugging it down feverishly.

So this is the stuff we don't like about Miracle Mile: just because you have a working song style doesn't mean it will work the same at a slower bpm; you can open with a funky beat and pull into verses and a chorus, but it's got a different personality when the pulse is turned down. There are some lovely textures, like the instrumentals on "Beach Monster," yes, those are still intact; but the tracks here try to go for the same dance feeling as on Reptilians, and comes off less successful. Why can't it be more brooding? Or more introspective? Something different, because taking the chord progression from "Mona Vegas" and repurposing it for "I Don't Want to See" smacks a bit of "running out of ideas." The two tracks that excite us the most here are "Atlantis," an 80s-inspired sway-dance tune, and "Say to You," which is a densely layered pop song, a few steps from their dance routine. These are the tracks that we see Starfucker reaching out most as a band, not too much, but enough to change their mold. Still, most of the tracks don't stray in spirit that far from the more energetic Reptilians, ensuring that they're still pretty good, if not entirely inventive. It's decent stuff, not as good as their previous album, but we think you'll still like it all the same.

So go out and get that fantastic Reptilians first. Miracle Mile will serve as another dose of Starfucker should you need more, but it's a bit on the dry side comparatively speaking. Good enough for government work, though; recommended.

Check out a few tracks on their bandcamp site.

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