Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Bright future ahead for Portland’s Starfucker

It was hard to live near Portland and not be excited for Starfucker’s debut. The band self-released a fine EP in 2007, and they played a ton of shows in and around the city to enthusiastic reviews from everyone I knew who had seen them.

More importantly, the teaser single released this summer, featuring “Pop Song” and a cover of Madonna’s “Burnin’ Up,” merited heavy rotation. Sole studio member Josh Hodges essentially filters synth-heavy, electronics-driven pop music through the homespun DIY aesthetic that has come to define Portland bands in the mid-to-late 2000s to remarkable effect.

Though “Starfucker” doesn’t completely meet very high expectations, it is frequently much more engaging than it initially lets on.

The most immediate winners here are early single “German Love” and the recently-released
“Pop Song.” “Love” is, at its core, only a few lines: “German love, I will give it to you” and “She won’t have a thing to do with me”: but as they repeat themselves, something
emerges. Driven by a fairly straightforward chord progression on an acoustic guitar
and buried beneath a bouncy synth line, Hodges’ vocal loops into a round before giving
way to just that guitar, holding the whole thing together to stunning effect.

“Pop Song,” on the other hand, is buzzy, gorgeous and undeniably catchy. Like its title implies, the song builds around a fairly straightforward verse-chorus-verse structure, and while the production is certainly dense, the blown-out sounding organs, buzzy synths and compressed drums give way to pure pop in the best possible way. As a track, its only real flaw is the fact that it makes one want to hear more songs like it, and those aren’t easy to come by: even on the same record.

That said, the rest of the album is at least decent. “Florida” anchors Hodges’ quiet vocals
atop a pronounced bass line and handclap- heavy percussion and works quite well. “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second” works, for the most part, for the same reasons “German Love” does. It’s straightforward, but utilizes a similar set of acoustic-electric tricks and a hushed vocal performance well. “U Ba Khin” sounds like a slowed down take on Of Montreal’s weirdo indie funk, and “Isabella of Castille” is a positively dreamy high note to go out on.

If “Starfucker” has problems, they’re in the fact that three of its tracks: nearly a third of the album, including “German Love”: was released a year ago on that first EP, reducing the record to only about 25 minutes of new material. While the EP was a limited release and didn’t see legitimate distribution outside of Portland, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed
by the brevity of “Starfucker.”

In addition, several tracks, all under two minutes, feel more like sketches or interludes
than they do songs: “Myke Pytson” and “laadeedaa” both introduce neat ideas, then are suddenly over without providing resolution. “Miss You” seems to only exist to bridge “Pop Song” and “Isabella.”

Despite this, “Starfucker” is frequently engaging. The album reveals Hodges as a talented
producer and often strong songwriter, and hints at enormous potential for Starfucker,
either as Hodges or with live band members Ryan Bjornstad and Shawn Glassford, to focus their talents and deliver an incredible follow-up.

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