Review Summary: More than the sum of its influences.
Ringo Deathstarr always seemed to me to epitomize the current wave of shoegaze; complete with a cute bass player and those weird Kevin Shields tunings; they make little effort to conceal their influences. Albums like 2012's Mauve
failed to breathe any new life into their songwriting despite this Austin, Texas outfit's prolific releases and constant touring, it seemed like they wouldn't escape the (in my opinion, overstated) "revivalist" label any time soon.
But none of that matters now. Because, on Pure Mood
, they get damn near everything right.
It's obvious from the moment that the eerie calm of "Dream Again" is shattered by the stop-start riffage of "Heavy Metal Suicide" that these guys have mastered something that many of their contemporaries have lost behind a wall of effects ***ery: dynamics. Hooks are all over this record, from the bouncy groove of "Big Bopper", to the crashing guitars that perfectly complement Alex Gehring's vocals on the 'Lush with their amps on 10' standout "Guilt", or the layered vocal harmonies of "Show Me the Truth Of Your Love". Guitarist/singer Elliott Frazier has honed his use of fuzz, so that "Never", which would have blended into the noisefests of previous albums, instead comes across as a beautifully cathartic moment.
Interview statements that they spent more time writing and recording Pure Mood
than any of their previous albums are telling, not only in the rather polished production, but in their newfound affinity for 60s psychedelia on tracks like "Old Again" and "California Car Collection". These songs are allowed to unfold at a unhurried, dreamlike pace, and while the album's middle section may be a little samey, it shows an interesting potential direction.
While fans of their more raw material may be let down, Pure Mood
is a much welcome progression for Ringo Deathstarr, showing previously unexplored sides to their songwriting and a refined, layered sound. They have combined familiar influences into something that is, unequivocally, their own.