STRFKR embraces pop, bounces back with latest release

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 at 11:15 PM
STRFKR embraces pop, bounces back with latest release by Britton Rozzelle

It’s been three years since Portland’s STRFKR released “Miracle Mile,” a somewhat disappointing album that hid what was great about the band — dark lyrics set to bombastic electro pop and synth; a sense of style wholly unique to the band.

“Being No One, Going Nowhere,” thankfully, is a return home for the band and proves to be one of their more enjoyable outings in years.

Starting with “Tape Machine,” the album sets its tone as one of excitement and cautious introspection. The band’s instrumentals are as strong as ever, with heavy basslines scoring soaring synths that accentuate the vocals of singer Josh Hodges. It’s a welcome return from the gloom of “Miracle Mile,” and feels more true to form for the band.

“Satellite” is probably one of the most single-worthy songs on the album, and one I expect to eventually be picked up by alt radio stations, with a sound similar to Wilco or current Beck. The guitar and bass blend perfectly with more reserved electronic elements to create a dark, rhythmic song that stuck out.

“Never Ever” feels slightly generic and forgettable, with basic hooks and verses that don’t seem as creative or exciting as some of their contemporaries. Thankfully, “Something Ain’t Right” manages to not fall prey to the same issues and shines as an ‘80s-inspired, feel-good track about companionship and accomplishment.

“Open Your Eyes” is by far the strongest song on the album, with a clear message and sound to it that sets it miles above everything else present. It manages to meld their old sound with modern-pop sensibilities, making it work incredibly effectively, all the while being a great example of the songwriting prowess of the band.

“Interspace” calls directly back to the interludes found in their self-titled record, using spoken word to transition cleanly into the heavy-electronic track “In the End,” a song that further plays with the ‘80s dance synth that permeates the rest of the album.

“Maps” is another track with an excellent sense of self, relying heavily on electronic arpeggios and the tenor of Hodges’ voice, producing a deeply layered experience that was kept on loop for hours. It leads perfectly into the more reserved, technically impressive dance track, “When I’m With You.”

“Dark Days” and “Being No One, Going Nowhere” round out the album expertly, holding on to that sense of dark electronic pop music that underlays this album, the latter being a moving and powerful instrumental track that eases the listener back into reality.

With “Being No One, Going Nowhere,” the band has decided to embrace pop — creating songs that aren’t as “out there” or conceptual as some of their earlier works. While it works as a whole, it does have some flaws.

Overall, be you a fan of the band or not, “Open Your Eyes,” “Maps” and “Satellite” are certainly worth checking out.

Britton Rozelle is the Executive Editor for The Spectator and can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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