Bright Colors

Dead Stars

Weird Tree Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Brooklyn's Dead Stars encapsulates all the things we loved about '90s alt-rock: the fuzzed-out rock of Pavement, the guitar heroics of Dinosaur Jr. finally being embraced by a large audience, the back-to-basics approach of a post-grunge outfit called Local H who seemingly became a household name off a single video on MTV, the overnight stardom of Weezer. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It was an exciting time indeed, and while we're talking about MTV, opening tune here, “Calm Punk” sounds like it should have been sandwiched between Teenage Fanclub and Pixies videos on 120 Minutes. “In My Mind” follows with a similar fuzziness, unrelenting melody, and a chorus that's unforgettable, before the softer “Stay Here” slowly and steadily builds into a tumultuous rocker. Other selections like “Bloomer” are closer to grunge and wouldn't be out place on the Sub-Pop roster circa 1992 alongside Seaweed, while album highlight “Some Days” uses soft versus loud dynamics to produce a wonderful display of crunchy college rock.

The second half of the disc is nothing to spit at either. “Unpopular” unleashes the fuzz in a way that brings to mind Nada Surf, only with a Sebadoh sort of brilliance, while “So Strange” is probably the most radio friendly and not far off from today's version of modern rock with a mid-tempo and melodic sense. “Haze,” on the other hand, is more a punk and garage rock version of the earlier songs and a late highlight on the disc. The album exits on the longest and most subdued track, the hypnotic and calming “Oh Well.”

Bright Colors is the sophomore album from the trio and is certainly indebted to legends like Rivers Cuomo, Frank Black, and Lou Barlow. While some might find this album trite, unoriginal, or repetitive, to them I would say that you just didn't fully immerse yourself in '90s indie and alt-rock to appreciate the genius that is Dead Stars.

Rating: A-

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