The Sudden Death of Stars – Getting Up, Going Down (Ample Play Records)
CD / DL / LP
The Sudden Death of Stars add to the list of bands who’ve successfully borrowed from the sounds of previous eras & have honed a great sound unique to themselves.
We’ve all got our Beatles, Byrds and Doors records to remind us of how much of an enlightening and progressive period the sixties were. The music was great and it really fitted the era but retro bands can be tiresome, and at times, pointless. There’s no sense in copying something unless you can add to it. Otherwise, you might as well start a tribute band – you’ll probably earn more money.
Filter through the manifold identical beat combos, though, and you’ll find some bands that take the sixties zeal and utilise it to inform rather than encompass their entire sound. Death in Vegas, Noonday Underground, Girls Names and Real Estate are just a few that immediately spring to mind from recent years, that have made some really interesting individualistic music. You can add to that list The Sudden Death of Stars.
From cosmic sixties garage-rock, to eighties jangly guitars, to refined and effortlessly cool French pop, their new record is heaven for lovers of that unmistakable ching-chang Rickenbaker sound, although it’s more an admiring nod rather than a glaring psych-rock retrograde.
The intense opening drum beat on Supernovae is immediately piggy-backed by spiky sitar and strident guitar. The muffled vocals – a bit like David Byrne hollering underwater – are finespun to the point that you are more lured to the infectious sonic grooves, rushing rhythms, swirling organ and crashing cymbals.
Free and Easy features a classic sixties rhythm guitar intro, while I’ll Be There (above) is the most irresistible piece of music on the record – the lilting hammond organ marries the way-out guitars and sporadic strings brilliantly.
Song For Laika is more downbeat, more contemplative, the sitar returns and the chorus soars rather than hits. Goodbye has me thinking of Fleet Foxes jamming with Teenage Fanclub and Deeds Beyond the Hints chimes elegantly, but might be better served a little shorter than its seven minutes.
Chilling Out at Set Time has some of the instantaneous appeal of The Who Sell Out and Spacemen 3. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the most primitive and direct piece of garage-rock on the album. I’m Not Among Believers plays like the soundtrack to the black and white sci-fi movie that you ended up watching at 2am after a night at the pub and Space is trippy exploratory psychedelia.
This record will have you reaching for your Nuggets box set once again, but it will also leave you yearning for the great period of eighties / nineties jangle power pop – Teenage Fanclub, The Go-Betweens et al. It manages to side-step the sixties psychedelic cliches admirably and there’s little conceit, just wondrous melodies inspired by the searching, searing pop tones of the Byrds and the outcast weirdness of The Velvet Underground.
Even though it’s true to say that the album lacks a contemporary sheen to give it that extra push beyond the pale and into brilliance, there’s much to admire. It’s full of colourful melodies, summery guitar lines and really interesting chord progressions that will have you hooked to the grooves. Sometimes that’s all you need and on this occasion it’s more than enough to appease your ear buds.