Review Summary: A strangely sparse, yet endlessly interesting excursion down some kind of rabbit-hole.
The songs on The Chinese Stars’ A Rare Sensation
are very close siblings. They all have the dissonant, yet delightfully catchy guitar licks, the bouncy bass lines that complement the guitars without merely reiterating them, and a remarkably precise, surreal atmosphere. A Rare Sensation
is at once alien and familiar; on one hand, it’s pretty simple, straightforward alt rock, but on the other, it’s a room full of stale strobe lights and amateur psychonauts wasting perfectly good acid trips in their routine rivers of booze.
Sometimes the songs are a little too
similar, and lack the extra dimensions to really differentiate themselves from one another. The vocals are always a sort of dirty crooning, and all the melodies seem to have come out of the same dirty daze. But the formula does get broken at some points by wonderful, sudden bursts of texture, like the bridge in ‘Electrodes In Captivity,’ and the verses of ‘Panic in the Population.’ Among others, synth bleeps and other funny noises are used to great effect at these points, nearly rendering you oblivious to the fact that you’re singing along to lines like ‘the chemicals will seep in faster if you’re sterilized before your capture.’
What really keeps me coming back to this album though is the pure weirdness of it. There’s these interesting spaces between the instruments that give the music a sort of hollow, off-putting vibe, but the rotten poetry (I mean that in a good way) the singer drools all over the music connects images to the sounds and gives the whole thing an unexpected cohesion. The discordant, yet driving main riff in opener ‘Cheap City Halo’ very clearly tells us that this song is on a mission, and the opening lines ‘I came here tonight with my discount DNA – looking for a lover that was made out of clay’
complement that perfectly.
A Rare Sensation
truly is a rare sensation. It’s harsh, but inviting. Weird and dangerous, but fun and danceable. You may hear all there is to hear in several listens or so, but akin to a car crash, what’s there has a sharp, twisted luster that will be difficult for it to lose.