There’s this lightning in a bottle live energy that so many bands have in their live shows that they struggle to capture on their records. It could be the sterile nature of a recording studio or the lack of a live audience to feed off of but whatever that is the number of incredible live bands that can transfer that to an album is few and far between. Los Angeles’s Starcrawler are not one of those bands. The barely out of high school four piece has been capturing audiences with its audacious shows for the better part of two years now. Lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde is a juggernaut. Often doused in fake blood and writhing around onstage as band mates, Austin Smith, Henri Cash and Tim Franco furiously hold it all together around her. With their sophomore release Devour You, Starcrawler come a long way to exceeding their live show and presenting a band that although may be young, is confident, muscular and will leave you breathless.
Devour You kicks off with “Lizzy” with a distorted stomp. By the time the chorus hits with de Wilde’s otherworldly scream of “I think I’m gonna fall down” you’re gonna be hooked. This is ferocity that hasn’t been heard from many contemporary rock bands for awhile. It’s all strut and sweat and an undeniable 70s swagger. Still there is nothing on here that feels like pastiche of just classic or glam rock bands of the past. It has a throughly modern sensibility that is refreshing. From the frenetic grind of “Bet My Brains” to the hard rocking Laurel Canyon vibe of “No Pennies Left”, with its J Mascis esque vocal melody and it’s chiming, country indebted finger picking, this is all the sound of a new band who knows what they want to do and are fully able to commit it all to tape. The production is necessarily huge. The drums pound hard and fill all the space between the always interesting and intricate guitar riffing while de Wilde is the anchor that keeps things moving, with a range that spans from mumbling fragility to an ear blasting wail. It’s all very impressive. “Toy Teenager” is a punk rock blast that is followed by “Hollywood Ending” and it’s ultra poppy verses that blow up into a huge airy chorus that will live in your head for days.
The bands hometown definitely plays a part in the proceedings. The songs seemingly showcase all the different sides of Los Angeles, from the seedy to the sensual, grimy to the glammy. As the entire band grew up there, it makes perfect sense that they would be as inspired by their environment as much as records they grew up listening to. In “Rich Taste” de Wilde sings, “I only drink champagne but my pockets have holes” almost perfectly distilling that city’s dreamers living a lifestyle that they can’t keep up with. “Born Asleep” takes us back to that Laurel Canyon 70’s folk feelings. With its slightly distorted twangy slide guitar that puts all that aside for a huge, all encompassing chorus. By the time we get to “Call Me Baby” with its country noir aesthetic and children choir, Devour You has taken you on a to tour of LA from its hotspots to its gutters.
Most bands may not be able to capture its live show on their album so it is very refreshing that Starcrawler can. While their shows may be a blistering blast from start to finish, it’s nice to have Devour You, that while is still blistering, it’s also a chance to appreciate the craft and songwriting skills that make up these songs and leave you breathless for what the band has up their sleeves for next time.
review by Adam Fink
10/11/19 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
10/12/19 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
10/14/19 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
10/15/19 – Omaha, NE – Reverb Lounge
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