Sometimes albums which are the easiest to listen to are the most difficult to explain. In the case of Stars of Track and Field’s Centuries Before Love and War, the Portland-based group’s triumph in accessibility may be its only drawback.Everything that melodic indie rock/pop fans could want is in full bloom. Philip Price’s lush vocals and climactic sustained keys swirl with Jason Bell’s delicate guitar riffs. Tasteful programming supports Daniel Orvik’s already-solid drum work. Tracks such as “Movies of Antartica” and “With You” are natural selections to back any syndicated first kiss, while “Hard Day” or â€šÃ„ÃºReal Timeâ€šÃ„Ã¹ may be perfect ways to conclude a heartbreak at dusk.
Working against Stars of Track and Field is the fact that so many of the songs are so damn accessible, some listeners may simply feel unchallenged and unprovoked. While there is nothing superficial about the grace of Centuries Before Love and War, a certain residual depth seems absent given multiple listens. No one is going to be put off by anything on this disc, yet conversely one listener’s agitation is another’s addiction. Those searching for a revelation will want to adjust their expectations and prepare for a fine 40 minutes of easy atmospheric rock rather than a dissertation in next-level song-crafting.
Stars of Track and Field have the mainstream within their realm of possibilities and with Centuries Before Love and War they have every right to achieve it, as it is an enjoyable listen that should appeal to a very wide variety of tastes. With any hope, it may prove to shorten the divide between music fans on both sides of the pop chasm.