Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
Portland, Oregon indie electro act STRFKR started out as the song ideas of Josh Hodges, equal parts sweaty dance beats and indie hooks brought into focus by a synthesis of live instrumentation and electronic programming. Earlier albums like their self-titled 2008 debut and 2009 EP Jupiter were essentially homespun recordings coming alive, while 2011's Reptilians expanded their palette and their songwriting chops, as well as drawing comparisons to similarly minded electro-rock mixers like MGMT and Cut Copy. With third album Miracle Mile, a few things have changed for the quartet, and there are some immediately noticeable differences.
I’ve never seen Starfucker live, but by most accounts their performances are sweaty, physical (as in “let’s get”) good times. The electro-pop four-piece—whether they go by Starfucker, PYRAMID, Pyramiddd or STRFKR—always seem to be having fun, obliviously treating the gray and drizzly environs of their Portland home like a lit dance club. Their sound may be somewhat out of place in the brooding atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest, but Starfucker’s jazzercise pop isn’t new in a world that’s been inundated by overly precious synth-pap in the past six years.
A STRFKR song is a pretty consistent animal: tight drums, punchy bass, whimsical guitar lines and pixie-like vocals from Joshua Hodges and his crew of dial spinners and riff-makers. Miracle Mile isn’t a departure from any of this; there is pep and strong composition, but not a lot of creativity. That last one isn’t a requirement, but Miracle Mile has a bad habit of feeling one-note.
STRFKRMiracle Mile[Polyvinyl; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; February 19, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMiracle Mile marks a change for STRFKR. On their third album to date, the Portland, Oregon band have given way to their childish profanity of a former band name (Starfucker) and instead opted for a MSTRKRFT-like nounless text speak version (perhaps Glasgow band Shitdisco could have saved themselves had they changed their name to SHTDSCO, or something marginally better than their original name, like Honky Tonk Indie Crew). STRFKR have also started working like a band in the studio.
Give this to Josh Hodges: He seems like a guy who would do reasonably well during any period of indie rock history. If it was the 1980s, he probably would have fronted a band that sounded like the Replacements. If it was the 90s, he'd be penning decent approximations of Pavement songs. If it was the early 00s, he'd be part of the post-Strokes "return of rock" wave of Vines and Jet wannabes.
The second that STRFKR’s second full-length, Reptilians, dropped in 2011, we already had a pretty good idea of what to expect from their third. STRFKR – formerly Pyramid, formerly Pyramiddd, occasionally Starfucker – haven’t budged from the palatable electronica territory since their eponymous 2008 debut, cranking out polished EDM with hints of synthpop over and over. Think Crystal Castles without the noise, chillwave without the fog, Flaming Lips without the weird – but with the theatrics that keep venues packed.
It’s a rare feat when an album can maintain a unique and consistent overarching atmosphere without stinting on the tunes. You could swim languorously through the stylized dreamy-synth whole of the third LP from this Portland, Ore., indie pop outfit, but songs like “Atlantis,” a funky groove of airy synths and romantic R&B-style vocals, assert themselves. “Nite Rite” is a seven minute-plus track that drones with psychedelia, but pushes forward on a tight knot of bass and pleasantly perplexes with its Stone Roses-quoting melody.
If you’re the kind of person who gets a lot out of being able to understand lyrics and wonder what inspired them, and maybe even relate to them, it might be best if you avoid STRFKR, and their newest album, ‘Miracle Mile’. But, if you like your electronic music on the poppy side, with a dash of distorted vocals, then step right up. Because that’s pretty much the Portland-based band in a nutshell.‘Miracle Mile’ feels like the sonic equivalent of a journey far longer than a mile – at 15 tracks and 50 minutes long, it’s a bit of a mission.