Energetic young rockers impressively evolve
Hollywood’s Starcrawler continues to climb up the rock ladder at an impressively quick pace. They got their first break when they were barely out of high school, as their blistering brand of garage-punk and over-the-top live shows caught the eye of Ryan Adams. He wound up producing their straight-ahead debut LP, which continued their upward trajectory. Now, just under two years later, the band has returned with their sophomore effort, Devour You.
When mxdwn first covered this band two years ago, we said that they definitely still needed to evolve in certain areas, but that their debut album showed enough potential that we believed they would. With that in mind, we are happy to report that with Devour You, they’ve delivered that evolution and then some. The hooks are bigger, the songwriting is more diverse, and all the members, but especially frontwoman Arrow de Wilde and guitarist Henri Cash, have supplemented their energetic stage presence with a new melodic element.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any punk and garage rock moments on the new record, there are plenty. The ones that come to mind the strongest are the opener ‘Lizzy’, with its angular riff and screechy vocals, the fuzzy Veruca Salt-y ‘She Gets Around’, and the brash ‘Home Alone’, which features Cash’s finest shredding.
The most interesting songs, however, are the ones that aren’t traditional. Usually, when bands attempt new sounds too early, they fall flat, but Starcrawler does the opposite: those songs are the best on the album. ‘Bet My Brains’ pairs hard-hitting blues riffs with backing piano hits. The album’s best track by far, though, is ‘No More Pennies’. Cash’s melodic playing channels Southern rock heroes like Lynrd Skynrd and the Allman Bros, and he also contributes some pleasant vocal call-and-response with de Wilde on the bridge. The weirdest bit is how natural the two sound over a mellower track so different from their traditional crazy underground punk club roots.
Overall, Devour You showcases a band that not only seeks to change their sound but succeeds at still making it sound good. That’s something many bands have tried and failed, to pull off but if a group of 20-year-old kids can do it this early in their career, the sky is the limit as to where they can go in the future.