The problem with Starfucker always started with their name. Not that Starfucker’s a bad name; in fact, it’s a pretty great one if you’re making the glamorous rock ‘n’ roll it suggests. But it didn’t match the twee-synth of debut album Starfucker. On their third studio outing, Starfucker are starting to live up to their name, crafting some stadium–sized synth-pop. They’re still dealing with some of the problems that plagued their earlier works, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Starfucker – “Julius”
For any band that identifies themselves as pop, the battle is won and lost on the lead singles. Even though Starfucker’s too indie to be jumping to the top of the iTunes Top 10 Songs chart anytime soon, they clearly took care in crafting the standouts on Reptilians. The one-two punch of “Julius” and “Bury Us Alive” is phenomenal, and everything fans of the band are probably hoping for. Leaning on synths more than anything else, these two tracks exemplify the music that works both in headphones and on the dancefloor. “The White of Noon” merits mention as well, the bass heavy and inspired, monotone piano line makes it the true album standout, a slowed down take on the other singles with an added sense of depth.
Most of the songs here have a melody that worms its way into your consciousness, but a lot of the catchiness is hampered by Starfucker’s hazy modus operandi. They are not trying to be Passion Pit, although the comparison had to be made. However, when it almost seems appropriate here, Starfucker obscures themselves again. Although shying away from the sugary synth-pop of their Brooklyn counterparts is by no means a bad thing, the songs here often seem thin, flimsy and lacking any real substance to them, something Passion Pit never had a problem with.
Starfucker – “Death as a Fetish”
The real problem is this inherent sense of emptiness to a lot of songs when there isn’t that poppy synth riff to sustain you through the track. They don’t have, for lack of a better word, a whole lot of soul. It almost seems that the band knows it themselves, lengthy vocal samples of unknown monologues on weighty topics seek to characterize the album; jerking the listener out of any groove the album has built up. These samples are fairly interesting to listen to on their own, and match the tone of the overdramatic track titles (i.e. “Death as a Fetish” or “Hungry Ghost”), but are ultimately clumsily inserted and musically superfluous.
Starfucker belong somewhere between the headphones and a party. The flip-flopping hurts them, but here they display a lot of the talents necessary to make it in either field. They just need to decide where it is they want to be.