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 quartet'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.

Blackbird Blackbird

"If we used tags this post would certainly carry the ones 'dreamy,' 'woozy' and 'wonderful' in big capitals somewhere prominent as for the last little while we've been giving unstoppable sticky listens to the ARCADE SOUND LTD endorsed (BLACKBIRD BLACKBIRD). 'Happy High' takes our cloud-bothering favourite words and wears them incredibly well with its twinkling galaxy of notes and shimmering out-of-body vocals that shadow the track with a gentle detached drift." --Transparent Blog

"San Franciscan synth-pop outfit are offering a free EP, Happy High, over at their Bandcamp page. The EP is pretty short, with a running time of a little over eight and a half minutes-- but it's also pretty sweet, especially the piano-heavy closer 'Ups & Downs'." --Pitchfork

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