Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Star - Devastator

Download: Star - "Acting So Tough"
Download: Star - "Pure Gold Reason"
Download: Star - "Switchblade Heart"

Devastator (Lovely Rebel Records)
Grade: B

As you may know based upon previous posts,I love me some shoegaze. So when I read the descriptions of Star's debut album, Devastator, which compared the Chicago band to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine, I, of course, flipped my gourd.

After a few half-assed (and one whole-ass) searches, I finally found the album. I have to say that upon first listen, I was disappointed. Sure, Devastator sounds like those other bands, but a little bit too much like those other bands, if you know what I mean. However, after that initial listen, the album grew more and more favorably on me. It's still too deriviative in some places, and loses stream toward the end. But there are several tracks on here that are warm, poppy and fuzzy, like the best of all shoegaze music.

"Pure Gold Reason" is one strong example of that kind of hazy, highly melodious music and it just so happens that it's the album's first track. After a brief, wavy sound collage, the band starts off with super-charged guitars, echo-laden vocals and a steady pulsating drumbeat. During the verses, the band backs off a bit and emphaises the more ambient aspects of their guitar sound while singer Shannon Roberts rips into the pretentious doofus who's hitting on her.

The music for the rest of Devastator is pretty straightforward, with the band hitting every dreamy verse and chorus that they should. Every song here is meant to be a people pleaser, as the songs get in, get out and do what they were meant to do. Only one song, "Jailor," is longer than three minutes. Even the more introspective, more soundscapey songs are barely above two minutes long.

One interesting aspect about the band is the lyrical perspective. The words in the songs have more in common with Guyville-era Liz Phair (and, when Roberts is using her lower range, she even sounds a bit like Phair) than they do with most shoegaze fare. The aforementioned "Jailor" actually begins with "This is what you get for being such a prick" and another lyric is "Your parents should of had a girl."

Wow. But the hostility in the lyrics and the laidback vibe of the music make for a great contrast, and the result is that Devastator is much more interesting once you grasp what the lyrics are (which you may not do on the first listen, due to the fact that Roberts' vocals are so reverb-heavy, as well as that the songs are so brief).

All in all, Devastator is a solid listen and a good start for Star.

Those of you in the Chicago area who are reading this can check out Star tonight (5/23/07) when they play Quencher's (corner of Western and Fullerton) at 9:00 p.m.

(Jonathan Graef)

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