by uberspuck USER (1 Reviews)
September 10th, 2009 | 5 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: All in all, Stellastarr* has some seriously great moments. When Stellastarr* hit their stride, the product is very amusing, enjoyable and quirky indie rock. However, Stellastarr* spends a little too much time wandering around just outside of their comfort

Stellastarr* is a little bit of a mixed bag as far as albums go. All in all, its quite solid, containing few really bad tracks, but it also has a few really distinctive qualities that work very well at some moments, and very awkwardly at others. When it comes to noteworthy characteristics, there are a few worth mentioning. First and foremost, lead singer Shawn Christensen has an incredibly unique voice, a kind of cross between B-52's Fred Schneider, and The Cure's Roberts Smith, about 3 parts the former, 1 part the latter. Bassist Amanda Tannen also does her part to contribute to the vocal soundscape by laying down some nice female backing vocals at all the right moments. Instrumentally the band is quite proficient, laying down pleasant tracks. However, at times Stellastarr* features space-rocky instrumental breakdowns that aren't quite interesting enough to warrant their existence.

The album starts out on a bit of an awkward note with the song In The Walls. While this is by no means a bad song, its certainly the most minor (progression-wise) on the album, which doesn't quite mesh with Christensen's quirky voice. The vocals take on a very ghostly quality, akin to Jello Biafra, as Christensen moans out the vocal line. And while this isn't totally unpleasant, theres definitely stronger songs on this album.

Next we have Jenny which moves the sound towards something a little more intuitive. Jenny does a good job of showing off Stellastarr*'s competent arrangement, working around a nifty little guitar riff/bass line pairing which serves as the songs main motif. A little more upbeat, and poppy, this song is a solid contribution to the album.

A Million Reasons is another pretty solid song but for one thing. This is a prime example of how Christensen's unique voice is only suited for certain lyrics. Not the lyrics in A Million Reasons. “ And I'm going through hell/Through the darkest sides of myself/I only want what I can't have” Its all one can do to not laugh. Despite this, A Million Reasons*is a catchy little ditty if you don't have a problem with not taking it too seriously.

Track 4, My Coco, is a shining example of Stellastarr* at their best. Bouncy disco bass-line, quirky lyrics, phasered space-rock guitaring, gold. The only real downside to this song is the unfortunately characteristic and unnecessary instrumental which kicks in right before song climaxes. The climax makes up for it though, as Christensen's delightfully quirky vocals build up, accompanied with tight counterpoint vocal lines by Tannen builds up to a nice, solid ending.

Next up, No Weather, starts out a little unremarkable but by no means bad. The second half of the song, however, consists of rich, layered choral harmonies which really show off the bands vocal prowess.

Moongirl, track 6, is quite possibly the weakest song on the entire album. Boring space-rocky instrumental, Moongirl showcases none of the talent we've seen thus far in the album, lacking interesting instrumentation and, for the most part, any kind of vocals. Its purpose, other than disrupting the flow thats been built up in the previous two songs, is pretty unclear.

Somewhere Across Forever is on par with My Coco when it comes to Stellastarr* executed perfectly. Quirky, inconsequential lyrics “Blue eyes, blue hair/Not gonna leave here without you”, Christensen/Tannen counterpoint, upbeat feel, its got all the ingredients. Unfortunately it also has an awkward, flow-disrupting instrumental bridge, but in light of the rest of the song, its easily forgivable.

If one was to try to sum up Homeland in one word, It would be 'awkward'. Homeland, like, In the Walls, suffers from a case of 'serious/minor = awkward'. In addition, the transition from verse to chorus is abrupt and a little disjointed, which doesn't help matters any. Effect laden female vocals add a neat sound, but can't quite bring this one up to par.

Untitled is another strong contender for worst track. Stellastarr* do their best to show a serious, emotional side, but it just comes off as a weird B-52s/Dashboard Confessional mashup. If Christensen was to stick with the most conventional vocal style he exhibits in the beginning of My Coco and*A Million Reasons this song might have been a little more listenable, but he doesn't, so it isnt.

The album ends on a great note, however, with Pulp Song, a straight-forward, feel-good, punky tune. Pleasant three-part harmonies on the chorus make this one a definite keeper. The simple distorted guitar part in combination with the vocally pleasing chorus and a tight little guitar solo give this song a very catchy, anthemic feel you'll certainly want to revisit.

All in all, Stellastarr* has some seriously great moments. When Stellastarr* hit their stride, the product is very amusing, enjoyable and quirky indie rock. However, Stellastarr* spends a little too much time wandering around just outside of their comfort zone, which tends to result in a lot of mediocre tunes. While certain songs on the album are definitely worth checking out, the album as a whole doesn't make for a very cohesive listen.

Album rating : 3/5

Stellar Songs (HA! PUN!)
My Coco
Somewhere Across Forever

Songs To Avoid

user ratings (15)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 10th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

[comment deleted]

September 10th 2009


jennys good

Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

my coco is probably one of the best songs of the decade

Electric City
September 10th 2009


hell yes

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

I'm giving this 4 because songs like my coco and somewhere across forever are exceptional.

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