STARFUCKER

In the past, Portland, OR-based Starfucker (STRFKR) has received almost as much attention for its not-always-accessible moniker as for its immensely accessible dance hooks.

But, having flirted briefly with a couple of name changes, the group is now firmly settled on Starfucker and so the focus can rightly return to what got people talking in the first place: the trio's endlessly catchy, hook-laden pop.

And there's no better place for that conversation to begin than with Reptilians, the band’s second album and first with Polyvinyl.

Lyrically, Reptilians focuses primarily on death and the end of the world, two intertwined subjects at the forefront of songwriter Josh Hodges’ mind following the passing of his grandmother. Yet, amazingly, the record manages to be not the slightest bit depressing.

In reality, it's quite the opposite -- a trait likely attributed to the fact that the band, like British philosopher Alan Watts (whose lectures are excerpted at various intervals), believes death is responsible for giving meaning to life.

For Starfucker, this comforting notion is expressed musically via vibrant crescendos, explosive drum beats, and layered synth melodies that drive a theatrical live show where dance party meets Roxy Music.

As such, Reptilians effortlessly marches from the stripped-bare psychedelia of "Born", which conjures David Byrne's ghost, to the funeral parade of "Bury Us Alive" (a track that greets death with open arms in a moment of animated celebration), to "Death as a Fetish," where the title becomes a liberating mantra sung over an immediately hummable keyboard-driven loop.

Just as with the band’s previous two releases, Reptilians was written almost entirely by principal songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Hodges.

This time around, however, the group’s sound is bolstered by the addition of Keil Corcoran (whom Hodges describes as a “human drum machine”) and producer Jacob Portrait (The Dandy Warhols, Mint Chicks).

Hodges first recorded the album's primary tracks in his bedroom and on the road while the band, rounded out by bassist Shawn Glassford, relentlessly toured the country this past year.

Then, Starfucker convened with Portrait at various Portland studios to record the drums as well as add a few final flourishes.

The result is Starfucker's most well-rounded and full-sounding album to date -- a blissfully buoyant affair that will have you dancing to songs about death while having the time of your life.

After forming Wampire, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps steadily began to make a name for themselves in the same Portland, OR, scene that has produced labelmates STRFKR as well as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It makes sense, then, that Wampire came to Polyvinyl's attention when the duo opened for STRFKR at a hometown Portland show and that UMO's bassist Jacob Portrait produced Wampire's debut full-length, Curiosity.

The choice of Portrait was a natural one, with both Tinder and Phipps believing he'd be able to contribute almost as much to the record as they would. And so, in mid-August Tinder and Phipps each brought fragments of song ideas into the studio, before deconstructing, re-arranging, and fitting them back together piece by piece -- at times lyrics and melodies were thrown out, brought back from the dead, or improvised on the spot.

This loosely structured approach made the process truly collaborative, with producer Portrait occasionally chipping in ideas for lyrics, arrangements, and instrumentation. The resulting nine tracks are instantly memorable, while defying easy categorization. Says Phipps, "We realized the record began to stray away from having a 'sound' and gradually became a platter with an assortment of sounds. The record showcases a flavor we haven't quite dug into before."

The album's diverse combination of sounds ultimately helped give birth to its title, Curiosity -- a word that invokes the listener's wonder at what will greet their ears next, while also describing the overall curious tone the record possesses.

First single, "The Hearse" serves as the perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with the band -- its opening notes swelling instantly with electronic organs over a driving drum beat. By the time bass and vocals kick in, you're already hooked. Elsewhere, "Orchards" weaves an infectiously breezy melody on the strength of vocal harmonizing, tuneful whistling, and undulating guitar lines. In some cases, Wampire's unique rhythms are best described by the band members, as with "Trains," a Motown-meets-Strokes track that Tinder perfectly summarizes like so: "It's sexy, sounds huge, and by all means should be blamed for future babies."

The album concludes with the equally sensual "Magic Light," a song centered around a dark seductive bass groove that sets the tone for Tinder's come-hither lyrics. It's the kind of track that draws you ever further into the record's beguiling clutches, leaving a lasting impression that remains well after its final notes have faded out.

FEELINGS

$18.00 - $20.00

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Crescent Ballroom

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STARFUCKER with WAMPIRE, FEELINGS

Wednesday, June 5 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Crescent Ballroom

Off Sale