The embers of 70’s rock ‘n’ roll are still simmering away and one band ready to torch the world and bring it all back screaming are LA darlings Starcrawler. Their brand of weirdo art punk encapsulates everything I love about 70’s rock and the 90’s alternative movement into one melting pot of LA styled cool.
Their notorious live shows combine the theatre of Alice Cooper with the raw, unbridled punk of Iggy & The Stooges. They release singles that don’t appear on albums, make the coolest promo videos since the MTV heyday of David Lee Roth and Poison and they have a wild and wonderful singer named Arrow de Wilde who could be the bastard offspring of Iggy Pop and KatieJane Garside.
It’s only been 18 months since their Ryan Adams produced debut album was released on an unsuspecting world, and now they return with their sophomore long player ‘Devour You’.
If you are a fan then you will have heard several of the songs on ‘Devour You’ already. Four singles have been released, with accompanying videos that will make you want to cruise the streets of LA in the summer sunshine.
So, following the tribal beats and familiar de Wilde drawl on album opener ‘Lizzy’, we get the first of those singles ‘Bet My Brains’. A cool Stooges vibe is omnipresent as it builds on a smoky vocal and a trippy groove to a cool as you like chorus refrain. The messy guitars of Henri Cash collide with the great hooks that Arrow delivers and Starcrawler creates the most exciting noise since the mid 90’s heyday of alternative rock.
The latest single ‘No More Pennies’ sees the band take their brand of garage punk to radio-friendly levels that were merely hinted at on previous releases. With a Joe Perry like introduction riff, it builds to an uber cool summery chorus with a nice little country lick going on. The definite Pretenders/Sheryl Crowe feel could alienate the punk rock audience but should be wholly embraced, as this is a band showing great maturity at this early point in their career. Great, lazy vocals and one of the album highlights.
You could say this band is showing their diversity and their songwriting prowess on album number two. I mean, imagine if Susannah Hoffs joined L7 and was seen swinging her used tampon over her shoulder into a festival crowd…well, ’Rich Taste’ could soundtrack that very moment.
From the funky, post-punk feel of ‘You Dig Yours’ to the frantic noise of ‘Toy Teenager’ they deliver the goods. Elsewhere ‘Hollywood Ending’ and ‘Born Asleep’ remind this listener of Hole at their late 90’s commercial peak. And ‘She Gets Around’ is possibly the best song Veruca Salt never released.
Album closer ‘Call Me A Baby’ sees Arrow channel her inner Patsy Cline. As Henri picks a countrified guitar refrain, she drawls a lament with a delicate vocal as sweet as honey. A children’s choir and brass instruments join in on the building chorus to the climax. The biggest compliment I can give is that it sounds like a song from a time gone by.
‘Devour’ is an album that showcases the diversity and maturity of a band who have spent time on the road, yet are barely out of their teens. There is a strength to the songwriting that lesser bands would kill to possess. Starcrawler have come a long way in such a short time, only time will tell how far they can truly go, but I for one will be watching every step of the way.
Author: Ben Hughes
Buy Devour You Here