A Flock Of Cowards
Mildly Misanthropic Music, 2010
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/16/2010
Stellar Vector doesn’t let their humor bollocks up their songwriting, which is tight and smart. The band’s lighter, quirkier side underscores most of the tracks on their first full-length effort, A Flock Of Cowards, mainly in the way of frontman Charles Sadler’s singing and the lyrics, which know well not to get too goofy without a good excuse. The disc’s concluding number, the aptly titled “The Not So Hidden Song” (with a length of mere 35 seconds and with the lyrics “Pillow-Head has a pillow for a head; what’s his deal? Nobody knows”), has a nursery-rhyme silliness that is truly charming and is worth way more than its insignificance as hidden filler, even though its aim is to gush with inanity.
Sometimes, the humor is more ironic, like “February 14th,” which clearly is a breakup song, where Sadler gleefully keeps announcing repeatedly “It’s the morning of my breakup day,” with a sincere enthusiasm. But then he doesn’t try to be either funny or sad about how he wants to execute the breakup; he does it in the most unassuming and matter-of-fact way, which – hand in hand with the obviously ironic title – is the kind of wry humor that A Flock Of Cowards is made up of.
The eclectic music style flaunted on this record adds further spice to its eccentric lyricism. The opening cut “Buffalo Jump,” which isn’t a macho post-grunge rock song, is nevertheless positively the band’s version of one with its fast throbbing rhythm and energetic guitars. Track two, “Lacking Self Control,” is something else altogether. It is not just its jesting piano-driven melody but its semblance of something like a rock version of maybe an Israeli folk tune that sets it shockingly apart from the mood that track one sets for the record.
One of the things that Stellar Vector does so well on A Flock Of Cowards is the enchanting psychedelic detours. On the title track and on “Closing Notes,” it is just in the choruses. However, “Will Sans Fear” and “Skipping Stones” are entire songs that are unmistakably like affable distant cousins of the British dream pop movement.
Like excellent students of Mike Patton’s various incarnations, Stellar Vector is slightly nutty but also intelligent; their music is unpredictable and unclassifiable but is interesting as well. A Flock Of Cowards is weird, not scary.
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