Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Starcrawler cast their lens upon the touchstones of '00s rock on She Said

"She Said"

Release date: 16 September 2022
6/10
Starcrawler - She Said cover
15 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Ross Horton
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Have you heard of Greta Van Fleet? They’re an American hard rock act that sound exactly like Led Zeppelin.

Despite their young age, they’ve toured the globe, won Grammys and hit Number #1 on the Billboard Top Rock album charts with both of their two studio albums. They’re immensely successful, but with great success comes great scrutiny: their similarities to Led Zeppelin (in sound, dress and presentation) have led to many folks - purists, you might say - crying foul and deriding them as overpaid karaoke pretty boys. Why have Greta Van Fleet when you have Led Zeppelin, Heart, Wolfmother, Rival Sons and Kingdom Come at home?

The reason Greta Van Fleet are important here is because Starcrawler are just as anachronistic, just as obliviously earnest, and just as good at what they do. The key difference is that Starcrawler retain enough personality to come off as adding something new to the pot rather than simply borrowing all of their tricks from older (better?) bands that laid the foundations for them to make a bit of dough.

There’s some originality in what Starcrawler do – they’ve always managed to find some unique flourishes amongst all the déjà vu – but their new album She Said will find you hearing things you’ve heard before if you’ve the slightest background in punk rock, alt. rock and/or grunge. If you played video games in the early 2000s, you’ll have heard all of this before. Still, if Iggy Pop believes in them enough to play them on his radio show, and Justin Hawkins likes them enough to compare their riff-construction to AC/DC, then you should probably give them a go if you haven’t already.

This new album, produced by soundtrack wizard Tyler Bates, is their most definitive, cohesive statement to date. The band consists of vocalist Arrow De Wilde, guitarists Henri Cash and Bill Cash, drummer Seth Carolina, and bassist Tim Franco, but there’s no mistaking who the real star of the show is. De Wilde’s gritty vocals, bare-bones lyricism and magnetic personality elevate the performances of her band in the way that evokes both Shirley Manson and Courtney Love.

In fact, Garbage and Hole are two key touchstones for the Starcrawler sound but you will also hear clear callbacks to early 2000s favourites The Von Bondies, Ash, The Datsuns, and lots of bands that feature on the Burnout 3: Takedown soundtrack. The powerful one-two opening of “Roadkill” and “She Said” highlights the key successes and obvious pitfalls of the Starcrawler sound by faithfully resurrecting that much-maligned period in rock history. It’s full-throttle, and raucous in the very best way, with a punk attitude and some hermetically-sealed brickwalled RAWK instrumentation amounting to the kind of adrenaline-inducing openers that the album definitely needs.

“Runaway”, unsurprisingly, goes for the jugular with the same kind of full-throttle chug-chug rifforama, as does the short-and-sweet rush of “True Deranged”. The more reflective cuts – in particular “Midnight” and “Broken Angels” – are easily two of the best songs on the album, and two of the best songs the band have ever released. “Jetblack” is also a winner, with its slick New Wave instrumentation and ghostly eighth-generation Phil Spector-isms. “Stranded” does a fairly reasonable job of replicating what makes The Breeders so engaging, but “Thursday” falls a little flat.

Taken as a whole, this is a perfectly enjoyable album if you want your music to be nostalgic, friendly and accessible. If you’re a jaded rock fan looking for a newish band and a reliable sound, Starcrawler are for you. For everybody else, proceed with caution.

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