Friday, August 11, 2006
stellastarr* - Harmonies For The Haunted: MAGNET Oct/Nov 2005
The triumphant, piano-driven opening to stellastarr*’s sophomore album could easily score the last moments of a prizefighter’s victory bout. Which prompts the question: Who’s the best contender for the new-new-wave crown? Franz Ferdinand has its Scottish allure (and the Killers their makeup), but this New York City quartet’s overlooked 2003 self-titled debut has something the others can’t flaunt or fake: grit in storytelling. “Jenny” tells the tale of an inescapable love for a girl who talks to herself, while “Somewhere Across Forever” details the world-canvassing power of desire, from the Sahara to New York City. Harmonies for the Haunted picks up where stellastarr* left off, weaving plots of misplaced identity (“Lost In Time”), familial abandonment (“Born In A Flea Market”) and costly change (“Love And Longing”). “The Diver,” about an athlete’s struggle with stardom, seems like a meta-plot designed to mirror stellastarr*’s lack of commercial success. When frontman Shawn Christensen croons, “You can fool your fans/But you can’t fool yourself,” it feels as if he’s choked by the demons of the music industry. Suffocation has never sounded so good.
VIDEO: stellastarr* - Sweet Troubled Soul