CD Review: Starf***er — Reptilians; Playing The Drunken Unicorn, March 23 and Rock and Roll Hotel, March 30

Polyvinyl Records

By Al Kaufman

Poor Starf***er. They think they have a pretty cool name, release a fun, self-titled first album, then land a song, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second,” in a Target commercial. Realizing they have a legitimate shot at success, they decide it might be time to rethink their cool name and call themselves Pyramidd. Then they realize that people know them as Starf***er, and, even though no radio disc jockey will dare speak their name, they decide to keep it.

Three years later, Starf***er, who sometimes go by STRFKR to keep it clean on posters and such, are back with a CD that demonstrates some of the maturity that comes with contemplating whether it is cool or not to drop f-bombs in your band name.

Reptilian is essentially a bunch of songs with beeps or harder-edged synth sounds, fronted by layered vocals.  It opens, aptly enough, with “Born,” a song that simply washes over the listener like a shimmering, summer shower. “Julius” offers more of the same, but with punched-up synth lines. “Mystery Cloud” picks it up another notch. Behind the dreamy vocals, the keyboards trip up and down the melody until the song ends with a spoken word sermon on why we should contemplate death and how death is like manure (but in a good way). It is just one of the songs on the CD that celebrates either life or death, both to the same degree.

Reptilians is a bit too repetitive. “Astoria” is a simple melody in which Joshua Hodges incessantly pleas, “I want a simple life.” He gets his wish a little too much on that track. And “Hungry Ghost” sounds more like a snippet of a song rather than a fleshed out whole. But this is all minor quibbling. Starf***er, like Passion Pit, offer dance music that can actually be listened to outside of a club. That is a major feat in itself.

Starf***er play the Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta on March 23…

…and the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C. on March 30.

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