Album Reviews

stellastarr* – stellastarr*

(BMG) UK release date: 13 October 2003

If like me you’re completely uninitiated about stellastarr* then the opening riff to their self-titled album will have you licking your lips in anticipation. For 15 seconds it could be the intro to a Linkin Park track, but soon enough In the Walls crushes that feeling.

Shauwn Christensen’s vocals soon let you know what stellastarr* are all about, and that is a musical reminiscence of some day long ago, from before the world welcomed me with open arms. If that makes you feel old then don’t be too disheartened – I’m only 17.

Single Jenny has a small parallel to The Strokes, except it’s definitively more upbeat, and dare I say it, by this point the vocals are slowly growing on me.

A Million Reasons draws an obvious comparison to Jarvis Cocker, something which is cemented in the final track, Pulp Song. I don’t know how big an influence Pulp have actually had on the band but there is definitely a likeness to, though blissfully not an imitation of, one of Britain’s best bands from the ’90s.

The album’s pace develops the further you delve into it. No Weather is a high tempo number complete with screechy vocals and plenty of feedback. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, taking ’80s style vocals, and throwing in a modern musical tool.

Moongirl is the album’s finest track, boasting a 30 second intro consisting of just feedback. It is also the first track that gives the impression that stellastarr* are more than a group stepping back in time. The understated vocals make the track sound like a cross between Massive Attack (Mezannine era) and Radiohead (circa The Bends).

Somewhere Across Forever is happily unidentifiable. Homeland, however, gives off a completely different feel and with its strong drumbeat, it’s almost begging to be played in front of some packed stadium. Failing that, then at least in a half-full tent at a festival.

The reason that the variety on the album works is because Christensen’s vocals neatly knit the tracks together, but no two tracks sound especially similar. This offering from stellastarr* may be somewhat quirky, but if you’re looking for a hybrid of Pulp, The Divine Comedy and who knows who else, then you need look no further.

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