Artist: Dead Stars
Record Label: Old Flame Records
Soundtracking misery, apathy and bedroom frustration has sold many a record; Nirvana, The Smiths and Radiohead have all capitalised on our own self-deprecating drive towards sorrow. NYC 90’s grunge revivalists, Dead Stars take the fuzzy motions of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr to document their own turmoil on debut LP, ‘Slumber’.
On initial listens, your main focus is drawn towards the trio’s sonic projection and how the New Yorkers haven’t bathed everything in fuzz. Not to say ‘Slumber’ is pristine, the scratchier, urgent moments still surge forward with rough edges and scuzzy appeal – ‘Crawl’ will attest to the band’s marriage of pop hooks sans the gimmick of making a record sound like it’s been birthed in a rusty colander being thrown down a metal fire escape. There’s a deft use of melody that’s allowed to roam free, which ensures Dead Stars’ sonically are laid bare, exposing themselves to all and sundry.
Once the Brooklynites aural reimaging of 90’s grunge has been absorbed the lyrical husk of Jeff Moore’s vulnerable soul is left to be feasted on. Conceptually ‘Slumber’ is an album that shudders with self-doubting frailty. It’s no wonder the record graces a moniker of lethargy, because if Moore’s monologues of insecurity are anything to go by, getting out of bed to create this LP must have been a struggle. Tonally, ‘Slumber’ carries many burdens, which seem to be centred on social interaction and being uncomfortable in your own skin. ‘Disappearing’ is Moore declaring a need to vanish but with a cautionary missive that trouble will be riding his coattail, “I am disappearing now/you won’t get away from yourself”. Equally, themes of remorse crop up to as if to reflect on a life wasted “Someday we will find the dreams we left unturned”. Dead Stars’ frontman drops down a notch into despair with the plaintive delivery on the subdued fuzz of ‘Dreaming to Forget’ which is chronicled by Moore’s sleep depraved mind “I wake up in the middle of the night/but something isn’t right/still thinking about you”. The pacier, louder moments don’t quite deliver the catharsis but instead the band’s debut appears to be stuck in a rut of self-deprecation. “When we count the highs as lows again/I’ll be waiting for the day” only confirms ‘Slumber’s down trodden vibes as ‘Daylight’ casually rattles and hums.
‘Slumber’ contorts with a pent up frustration but with little release. Dead Stars appear to be stuck in a bubble where they can channel their anxieties but without the burning rage to make the damn thing burst.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams