After close to a year listening to this album, i have developed a love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it is kind of generic indie pop, but on the other hand, there are a few really brilliant songs here. In fact, of the 12 songs on this record, i really really like three of them. The other 3/4 of the songs range from decent to generic to irritating (especially their acoustic work), which kind of decreases the overall value of the record.
So, Dead Stars are a three-piece from Brooklyn, NY, primarily centered around vocalist / guitarist Jeff Moore. Moore’s voice is kind of whiny, and slightly high-pitched. He sounds vaguely like Elvis Costello. Vaguely.
But there are four great tunes here, and they form a block in the record, tracks 2 through 5.
The first one is Summer Bummer, which is just a damned good pop tune. Moore sings lightly and the guitar grinds under steady riffing from the rhythm section, then on the chorus he stomps a pedal and wails, "Now that it's summer / Everything's such a bummer again". The lyrics are silly, and the whole thing is catchy and fun. This is happy, silly, indie pop.
The next track is called Walking Away and this is a fuzzy vaguely mopey pop tune that i bet it would have been a big hit in 1994. I can see the video: a mixture of black and white footage and that kind of lo-fi jerky filming. Scenes showing a girl storming out on some guy interspersed with the band playing in a big open room... It could've been big, man! It’s a great, epic tune.
Moore channels The Lemonheads on Crawl. This is a really catchy pop tune with the guitar crunchy and happy as he sings lyrics of annoyance with his companion. It rocks.
After those three songs there are two irritating acoustic songs and a few tunes that sound like The Gin Blossoms, and a few ponderous tunes that never quite become power ballads. The rest of the record is very mediocre, but that one stretch of four songs is just great.
Why are they all clustered together like that? Is there some amplification effect when i get swept up and carried along in Dead Stars' catchiness for a while, eventually becoming bored after it wears off?
There is potential here. Moore can write a great tune. And you know, if he had extracted those four songs and put them on an EP, i would be singing the praises of that EP. As it is, that is one fourth of the record, and the rest is just filler. Not a good ratio.