Bright Colors

Dead Stars

Weird Tree Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


This sophomore disc from Brooklyn’s Dead Stars made it to me on the Upper West Side via a stopover from our venerable editor Jason’s desk. The band’s brand of fuzzy, blissed-out indie rock got his seal of approval and piqued my interest, too.

In particular, the lead single “Calm Punk” lodged itself in my head with its loud-soft dynamics, bouncy backbeats, and a fully energized chorus. Described as “slacker rock” in the press release, the lyrics definitely fit this bill: with lines like “Maybe it’s all the same / Some things will never change / I hope we can figure out just why / We don’t need to try.” Indeed, a lot of this disc sounds like it was plucked straight out of the ‘90s with its blend of sorta-garage rock with an infusion of poppy catchiness, garnering comparisons to Weezer, Teenage Fanclub, and the Lemonheads. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Second cut “In My Mind” follows in a similar vein, padded with thick guitars (courtesy of guitarist and vocalist Jeff Moore), no-nonsense drums (Jaye Moore) and propulsive basslines (John Watterberg). The lyrics can get a little repetitive, but the chorus is sticky nonetheless. They slow things down on the languorous, lo-fi “Stay Here,” which unfolds hazily before leading into the frenetic “Bloomer” with its crunchy, driving guitars and another repetitive yet catchy chorus.

I’ve been spinning Bright Colors for the past week or so, and what I’ve found on repeated listens is that while I like many of the songs individually, they don’t quite cohere into a full album experience. There’s a sense of sameness that permeates these cuts, causing me to tune out of the disc even though it only clocks in at 34 minutes. I can see myself plucking out the individual tracks that capture a nice combination of blissing-out and rocking-out, but the album as a whole feels disconnected. It needs a little more of that Weezer-esque ironic sensibility, or more specificity to the lyrics to really make these songs stick with you.

When you’ve got a closing cut (“Oh Well”) that just repeats the words “Oh well” over and over the same guitar line as a bunch of the earlier songs, it means that it’s time for an injection of something more: more passion and higher stakes to transform this from background music into something that not only grabs your attention but keeps it. Nevertheless, listening to Bright Colors makes me want to see Dead Stars live to see what they can really do when they’re let loose.

Rating: B

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© 2016 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Weird Tree Records, and is used for informational purposes only.