Bizarre, Reckless and Endearing
To be perfectly blunt, this is a refreshing album. Sure, you have a group of young, inspired and skilled musicians. That’s a good enough start. However, for anyone who has ever been in a band, or seen a band play live, you would likely agree many of the best musical experiences you will ever have are when you catch a talented band while they are having fun. With Starring’s second full-length release, ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ, you need look no further than the album title to realize this is a band that does not take themselves too seriously, but are nonetheless ready to jam and blow out your speakers with a vengeance.
Taking oneself none too seriously is a highly desirable trait in music, specifically rock music, and when opening track “the best” [sic] takes a moment to steal a page from Tina Turner’s lyric sheet, you know you’re already in for a bizarre and exciting journey. The music really pumps out to start, changing moods—one moment aggressive and jazzed-out punk and the next almost operatic—seamlessly and with a great sense of confidence. This is not to say Starring’s relatively softer moments lose the steam of their more aggressive ones. It’s quite the contrary, in fact: Their endearing sense of recklessness and adventure envelopes the album in its entirety.
And like any self-respecting band, there are a lot of influences swirling in this mix: some Velvets-style garage rock pounding and Farfisa, some warp-speed King Crimson runs, and a krautrock sense of deconstructing both. This being said, it’s clear these five talented musicians get too much of a kick out of jamming to pad out the lyric sheet too much.
In fact, the entirety of the album’s lyrics might comprise a slightly longer than usual paragraph—but that’s just fine really. Throughout the album, the vocals act more like a subdued sixth instrument. Guitarist/vocalist Clara Hunter uses disparate lyrical lines to give a different color to the proceedings. While the music gallops around her, she provides a cushioned center. The inverse is also true however, as in the startling yelps of “aphonia” [sic] which cut over the rest of the band and serve to break up the near whisper she uses throughout the rest of the record.
To be sure, Starring might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But to hear a band coming out of the world’s most historically jaded music haven (Brooklyn) and still reeling off music this honest, inspired, energetic, creative and what other glowing adjective you’d like to add—well, it’s bound to warm the heart of even the most god-forsaken, cold-hearted music reviewer who allows their ears to hear it.