Few current bands have captured the sound of the shoegaze movement more perfectly than Chicago's STAR. Bringing back that fuzzed-out beauty of old-school 4AD albums that some of us obsessed over many, many years ago, their throwback to days of pedal effect-soaked guitars, loops and breathy female vocals from the '80s and '90s. This is an era of music that I hold very close to my heart, and it is a thrill to hear a band such as STAR truly embrace that sound.
Their debut album, Devastator, kicks off with the looping keys and crunchy drum machine of "Pure Gold Reason." You'll find yourself thinking back to the glory days of Jesus And Mary Chain. Where STAR really hits their stride is during the melancholic moments such as on "Switchblade Heart." With the beautifully-distorted guitars backing Shannon Roberts' reverb-soaked dreamy vocals, it is impossible not to think of bands like Lush and Curve.
"Jailor" allows guitarist Scott Cortez to really experiment with his sound, resulting in the glorious noise of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. The contrast of Roberts' delicate vocals and Coretez's wall of guitar noise works perfectly as the song teeters on the edge of chaos, with Theodore Beck's beats holding it all together. Then comes "Acting So Tough," a slightly more straightforward tune that allows Roberts' voice to soar way above the rest of the noise. It is one of those musical moments that sends chills down your spine.
If I had to pick a single off the album, "Liars In Love" is hands-down the track I'd go with. This upbeat tune is jam packed with memorable melodies and a powerful chorus that encompasses all the aspects of a damn good shoegazer track. The echoed vocals almost sound a bit like the Cocteau Twins at times, but with the sonic punch of Medicine and Ride. It is one hell of a track, one of many on this truly great album. STAR is definitely a band to watch out for in 2007.