Review Summary: Starfucker return after a short break with an album full of catchy songs. Most importantly, it's their most mature album so far, one that should silence critics who write them off because of their "silly name".
If you go back and watch any great TV series ever created, there is one thing that most of them have in common. The first season, while still great, is always kind of weak in comparison to what follows. That's because TV shows take some time to find their voice, but once they hit their stride it's a great thing to behold. The new Star***er album can be looked at in the same context. Their self-titled debut was a very fun album, but one that showcased a band who had yet to totally find their voice. They followed quickly with an eight song EP, which contained extras from the first album. It was also good, especially for a quick release put out to capitalize on the minor success they found when their song "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" found its way into a Target commercial.
With that new found semi-success, the band was faced with a conundrum. With a name like Star***er, they weren't about to be getting regular airplay regardless of how good the material was. So in their three year hiatus from recording, they had some brief turmoil in finding a new name (Pyramidd at one point), before settling back on Star***er. Three years can be a long time for a band to follow-up a debut album, but Star***er had time to grow, and "Reptilians" is all the better for it.
"Reptilians" has an almost bi-polar quality to it, featuring songs with a life-affirming and positive sound, yet much of the album is focused on death. A handful of songs actually close with a sample of a lecture being given on the subject of dying and mortality. The album opens with "Born", which bears a striking resemblance to "Fight Test" by the Flaming Lips. Airy vocals carry the song, and the synths set the tone for the entire album. "Julius" follows, and its a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Passion Pit album. In factm with the type of music they make, references to other bands can be made with most of the songs on the album. Songs like "Mona Vegas" and "Millions" could be compared to Cut Copy, with the former showcasing CC's atmospheric quality, and the latter sounding more like their dancy-er material.
However, this isn't to say that Star***er is a band completely derivative of other bands. Far from it. It's easy to get the sense while listening to the record that, while the band wasn't really interested in doing something groundbreaking, they managed to create a few applaudable, original moments. And even the songs that sound like other bands have a sound that belongs to them, which isn't always easy to pull off. Also, a few songs on the album can't be pinpointed to another band's sound, such as "Death As A Fetish", with its pulsing beat, and lyrics stating "I will never be good enough", before busting into the chanted "death as a fetish" to close the song. Another example of a song tha is wholly their own is the album standout "The White of Noon". Sitting right near the middle of the album, it's one of those songs that instantly has you paying attention when you hear it. The trance-like vocals fit the lyrics--"we are dreaming"--spectacularly. This song is the sound of a band in control of their sound.
The rest of the album is full of highlights as well, from "Astoria" to "Mystery Cloud"--the most danceable song on the album--to the title track, which is very similar to "German Love" from the debut. Even the two instrumental tracks, "Hungry Ghost" (which features more samples of the lecture located in other songs on the album) and "Quality Time", the album closer, won't get skipped over for the next song. The digital version features two bonus tracks, and is the version worth getting in my opinion. Either way you go, the album is a treat, and one that I can confidently say will make my "year-end" list in some way. And as long as Star***er can continue to put out albums of this quality, going back to the debut will be just like going back to the first season of a great TV series. While still great, it was essentially laying the groundwork of much better things to come.