Details details details. It’s the smaller and more refined details of a song that can change it from being a bland and repetitive pop song to a unique and new song. Starfucker understands this concept and is very good at creating fun to listen to beats that aren’t as bland as typical pop music. While the term “pop” brings with it a lot of preconceived notions, Starfucker manages to do what bands like Yeasayer and MGMT do well and that’s revitalize the pop genre with interest.
“Reptilians” starts off in a strange way as the first song “Born” is more reminiscent of a Flaming Lips cover rather than a pop song. The vocals are a high alto mixed with various weird background noises and psychedelic sounds that evoke the feel of the legendary band. It’s not exactly off-putting but it certainly is strange to have the opener of an album evoke another band quite so much.
In fact picking out Starfucker’s influences became a game that was quite easy to play with “Reptilians”. The band evokes the feel of MGMT, Yeasayer, Beck, The Flaming Lips, and many other bands as each track plays. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as Starfucker is obviously talented enough to show these influences and still standout as its own entity in the end. The second track, “Julius”, is part of a killer one two punch that couples itself with “Bury Us Alive” in an extraordinary fashion.
You go from this upbeat cheer of sorts into a dive that is reminiscent of a Cut Copy love ballad. The weird electronic trumpet noises in “Bury Us Alive” punctuate the song with such ease that the whole song just feels great. It truly is the epitome of what Starfucker set out to be “dance music that you can actually listen to, that’s good pop songs, but also you can dance to it.” The music certainly is “good dance music” as it has an upbeat feel to it but doesn’t overstay its welcome with typical beats and uninteresting hooks.
“Mystery Cloud” is another fast paced song that has eerie and ethereal vocals that mix with an almost 8-bit rift to create a great combination. It’s also the first track of the album to feature the philosopher Alan Watts, who is featured on many Starfucker songs. Watts is a Zen Buddhist who discusses death and its benefits quite a bit in his speeches. Call me a sucker but I love when songs have a well spoken philosopher just rambling on after a song has ended. It’s something that is being done quite a bit in music but it’s still something I enjoy.
“Death as a Fetish” is a great twist of a song as it starts off by building up into another 8-bit like melody. From there it gets its percussions and suddenly gains vocals that rival Beck at his deepest. It’s a very relaxing song that undermines the idea of dance music. This is the top complaint about “Reptilians” that the band goes from dance music to relaxing music over and over again. Quite frankly, I prefer my bands to contain some variety and though I think there is something to be said for an album that is strictly one style having multiple styles on an album is nothing to complain about.
The next few songs, “Astoria” “Reptilians” and “The White of Noon” all follow the relaxed melody of “Death as a Fetish” until “Hungry Ghost” quietly comes along to abruptly break that mold. Watts rambles on about spectrums and light as the drumsticks tap away and all of a sudden the music explodes into a mix of slow dance music and DJ scratches, it’s actually quite wonderful. My only complaint is that “Hungry Ghost” is over too soon.
That’s the back and forth of “Reptilians” it goes from fun dance music to chill summer time music and both are perfectly fine with me. It’s the kind of music you can put on at a party with friends while you sit around and drink beer or while you drive down a highway with the windows open. Starfucker just flows really well, the music is great and it’s just different enough to make it standout amongst other bands trying to hit that pop music crowd with something new.
Standout track- “Julian”- as a part of the great two singles on the album “Julian” really stands out with an electronic melody that’ll stick around in your brain for a while.
Listen to it if- hearing the same 5 melodies in every song is driving you crazy.
Don’t listen to it if- those 5 melodies bring you to your happy place. (you sad little man)
Overall opinion- “Reptilians” is a lot of fun, plain and simple. It’s a fun listen and can be played whenever and wherever. Plus Watts is pretty awesome.