Crushed Stars - Displaced Sleepers - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Crushed Stars - Displaced Sleepers

by Steve Rhodes Rating:6 Release Date:2017-02-10

Crushed Stars is the brainchild of Dallas resident Todd Gautreau, who five albums into his latest musical venture is most noted for a unique interpretation and college radio hit of Nena's 80s bombast '99 Red Balloons'. Taking pointers from nearer to the end of the same decade and early 90s, especially the introspection of Ultra Vivid Scene, Dream Academy and Sarah Records, with light, thinly-produced guitar numbers and a hint of dream pop attachment, Todd has produced a nice but largely underwhelming album that is crying out for hooks that never really appear.

Acoustic and spacious, lightly arpeggiod guitars greet us on 'Permafrost', with Todd's vocals near the Lloyd Cole, The Chemistry Experiment or Last Harbour end of the spectrum. A polite organ from the league of Belle & Sebastian adds texture to a fairly languid song that only improves with some alluring but infrequent chord changes.

'Diminished Returns' ups the pace a fraction, with drums and organ a touch more pronounced. The track benefits from a busier, meandering bassline and echoes Aarktica or Flying Saucer Attack, especially Dave Pierce's infrequent vocals, albeit without the guitar effects or general atmosphere, but still struggles for memorability, or something to wrench it out of its blissful ponder.

'Celia In Her Constellation' is an improvement, as Todd's acoustic wanderings are supplemented by strings, echoed drums and a hint of woodwind, adding to a grander and expansive feel, that nods to The Church or Trembling Blue Stars in its delightful melancholy.

While 'Spaceman' is thankfully not a Babylon Zoo remake, it suffers from its pedestrian pace and breathily mumbled vocal that fails to draw the listener out of their subdued stupor, a fate that also befalls 'Palace of Sounds' and 'Slow Parades', acoustic numbers that are forgotten as soon as the last note is played. 'Sleepwalking' also struggles to raise the bar, though its spectral sound at least improves the depth of the track.

Though retaining the plodding pace, there is greater promise with 'Moonbath', as a little guitar bend, some roving bass, summery keys and a fuller sound that suggests Robin Guthrie could have leant an ear.

The dreamy 'Leaving Trains' closes proceedings and is a positive note to finish with. Though the tempo remains constant the keys are enveloping and full of beautiful ascending chords, as luscious synths, lightly-rolling drums and subtle, wavering electronic squelches provide the support for Todd's hypnotic vocal, in a manner akin to Airiel and Not Drowning Waving.

With an aesthetic straight from late 80s 4AD, Displaced Sleepers is a frustrating record at first, as most tracks leave little impact or make much effort to punch above their weight, which is of importance in an over-saturated genre, however after repeated listens there are buried touches that try to reach out, which makes the endeavour worthwhile. Not exactly ground-breaking but a pleasant journey nonetheless.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Couldn't agree more Steve, I've tried getting into Crushed Stars a handful of times over the years at the behest of a buddy who swears by them, but 'frustrating' is the perfect way to sum up their sound. It's all there on the surface, but I find tend to find little to go back to.