Starfucker – Miracle Mile
by Runyon Colie (History), published March 2nd 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
While their band name might not make it all that obvious, Starfucker’s (stylized STRFKR for the faint of heart) sophomore effort, Reptilians, went a long way to show that the band was capable of serious (and seriously impressive) work. Initially notable for their eye-catching name, progressive fashion sense and upbeat indie pop (as well as the best cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” ever recorded), the Portland, Ore. outfit surprised everyone with a thoughtful album that served as a serious meditation on death. Simultaneously, it maintained the band’s pop songwriting sensibility and live potential while advancing their sound in a hefty, more psychedelic direction. A glance at the flowery artwork for this February’s Miracle Mile makes it obvious that the new album has a different intent. Lighter in nature and in sound, it’s a play for broad popularity that, while pleasant enough, fails to reach the heights the band is clearly capable of.
Opener “While I’m Alive” starts the album on a disappointing note. It’s a piece of pop fluff with an obnoxiously meaningless and saccharine sensibility and chorus (“While I’m alive / I got, I live my life”) reminiscent of Passion Pit’s summer hit “Talk a Walk.” As the first single, Starfucker must be hoping the song can prove at least partially as popular. Luckily, the album gets more interesting as it progresses, with “Malmo” serving as an early highlight. “YAYAYA” and “Fortune’s Fool” both feature a single repeating vocal refrain, the latter serving as the launching point for the album’s strongest run of songs. The less said about the former, a pointless track that would harken back to the group’s original work if it had any of the same charm, the better. “Kahlil Gibran,” named after the celebrated Lebanese writer and poet, is an excellent addition to the band’s down-tempo repertoire.
Two songs later, “Atlantis” highlights everything Starfucker does best. It features a pulsing beat, excellent instrumental accompaniment and the sort of wonderfully morbid lyrics that make for exceptional sing-alongs (“Come on Atlantis / Mmm-it makes me sad to think of home / Sing me that song once more before / We all die a lonely-lonely-lonely-lonely…”) and position it as the album’s best, most dance-floor ready track. “Leave it All Behind” follows in the same vein, but can’t bring it all together quite as deftly (though not for lack of trying). The best thing about the songs from that point until the album’s fifteenth and final track is the excellent synth solo/outro in “I Don’t Want to See.” Closer “Last Night” disappoints, unfortunately, fading away rather pointlessly after a long build that should have transitioned into something far more exciting.
In light of Starfucker’s achievements on Reptilians, Miracle Mile must be viewed as a disappointment. A lighter, airier piece of work that demands less attention musically and emotionally than its predecessor, it may propel the band to new levels of fame, but it’s unlikely to stick in the mind as long. It’s not the best the band is capable of, and serves as a step sideways, rather than forward. Still, fans of dance/synth pop should still find more than enough to enjoy through its fifteen tracks. Also, knowing Starfucker’s ability to turn what seem like slow songs on record into absolutely smashing dance tracks in concert, it should refresh their already exceptional live show. Hopefully next time Starfucker can get back on a more promising track and make the genre defining record that Miracle Mile isn’t.
Recommended Tracks: Kahlil Gibran, Last Words, Say to You, Atlantis