- by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2016-11-04 Label: Polyvinyl Records
STRFKR, formerly Starfucker, have a sweetness that belies the harshness of their name. Somewhat electro but more indie pop, they also manage to be chameleons, cranking out tunes in a wide variety of neighboring styles and sounding like half a dozen different bands across their newest album, Being No One, Going Nowhere. Frontman Joshua Hodges wrote most of the album himself, which makes it an even more remarkable achievement, because it's uniformly high quality in its variations.
Like a lot of other indie bands this year, chunks of the set have a hazy sheen recalling the late 70s and early 80s. Lead track 'Tape Machine' pulls this off nicely, alternating squiggly keys and drums with folksy guitar sections. Hodges' voice here, and in a lot of other places, is reminiscent of the Apples in Stereo with its fuzzy optimism.
But again, the amazing thing about this album is how it sounds like some kind of Indie Now! compilation. Before the vocals kick in, 'Satellite' leads with the coordinated guitar strumming that's a Ratatat signature sound. 'Maps' features the super serious, pounding and spaced-out electro that M83 favored before it went all crazy this year. 'In the End' has the goofy tropical pinball stylings of Neon Indian's "Annie" from 2015. 'When I'm with You' goes all smoke-filled deep club, sounding just like Beacon's set from the beginning of this year. The title track, which closes the album, is a piece of moody chillwave that would fit perfectly on a Washed Out release.
It's a truly remarkable feat how many sounds STRFKR apes and apes well, intentionally or not. And when they're not doing the uncanny mimicry, STRFKR lays out a solid set of middle-of-the-road indie pop, such as on the mellow and driving 'Dark Days', which pulses along on waves of synth bass and glittering key melodies. Similarly, 'Never Ever' hits all the right notes, pogosticking along on punchy synths, and 'Something Ain't Right' is by turns melancholy and fun.
With Being No One, Going Nowhere, STRFKR has produced a dazzling piece of indie zeitgeist. As long as you're happy with where the scene is right now, you'll be delighted with the album. If you're looking for something groundbreaking though, you'll need to look elsewhere. Still, with its heavy pop polish, it's hard not to appreciate the ear candy on its own terms.