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Reviewed by Jason Thompson
For those looking for the quickest fix into the land of Starfuckers, just check out track two, entitled “German Love.” There are only two alternating lines to the whole song, but the hooks and groove are impeccable, and it’s impossible to not fall in love with it the first time you hear it. There’s something very innocent-sounding about it, lending it even greater charm. However, the album opens properly with the shiny and streamlined “Florida,” filled with kinetically knotted lead guitar lines mixed with shimmering synth bells that sound like they walked in from 1983. New Wave for ’08, but in a way that doesn’t rest its laurels on retro collision for novelty’s sake.
Then there’s “Mike Ptyson,” which features some of the best rhythmic handclapping heard in ages. Hodges likes to half-whisper his vocals, sometimes sounding like J. Spaceman at his most strung out. But unlike Spaceman’s trips, Hodges’ are all about the bliss and happiness of making the listener feel warm and welcome within the music, not just tripped out. There’s almost a folksy feel to the track, bringing to mind the kind of thing Devendra Banhart might do if he were feeling a bit poppier.
One of the biggest joys of this album is hearing the chord progression for the equally blissed-out “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.” When you first hear it, you think it’s going to go in one way, but it manages to shift directions two or three times before being resolved, making you wonder “How the hell is anything catchy going to be thrown on top of that?” But then Hodges comes in and sings his sweet melody over the top and it all instantly makes sense. Call it genius, if you will. Whatever it is, it’s nothing short of fascinating.
On the spare “U Ba Khin,” Hodges sounds like Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters way out in space somewhere. “Holly” is an interestingly disjointed bit of what almost sounds like spare bits and parts thrown together making a nice little tune. Nothing goes to waste here. Obviously. On “Hard Smart Beta,” the sawtooth synth line is brought out from the bowels of the ‘80s and given a new coat of paint and nice new legs to dance with before segueing into “Pop Song,” which features Hodges paying tribute to ELO without all the detrimental Jeff Lynne production gimmicks.
Closing with the instrumental “Miss You,” which sounds inspired by telephone touchpad tones, and the pretty “Isabella of Castile,” Hodges ends his debut album with one last nod to New Wave goodness before signing off into his blissed-out world. This is the kind of greatness Madstock could have achieved back in the early ‘90s if they hadn’t been so intent on trying to capture the Summer of Love in their music. Starfucker have a great future ahead of them if Hodges keeps cranking out material as strong as this. For any fans of hooky pop goodness, you’ll be playing this one non-stop, guaranteed.