By Adam DeRoss
Indie rock is one of the most saturated and competitive genres for aspiring musical artists today. Creating a unique sound and standing out from the crowd is becoming harder for emerging bands as the years go on. Most indie bands are not able to break through the sea of competition and gain recognition for their work. STRFKR is not one of these bands. They are well known not only for their humorous name, the enemy of every radio DJ, but also for their unique and playful sound. Tracks like “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” and “While I’m Alive” have captivated fans of the band with their poppy psychedelic sound. But has the band progressed past their old successes?
Nov. 4 saw the release of the band’s fifth studio album “Being No One, Going Nowhere.” While the band still retains their signature style, most of the tracks on the record sound too similar or stagnant compared to both their older releases, as well as other tracks on the album.
The record does open strongly, however, with the catchy cosmic riffs and melodies of the intro track “Tape Machine.” The instrumental on this cut combines funky bass tabs with poppy synths, space disco phasers and a calming layer of strings. The simple lyrical content complements the dreamy melodies with the signature nasal delivery of lead singer Joshua Hodges. “Something Ain’t Right” is another great track that sounds delightfully 80s-esque with its colorful droning synths and lo-fi electronic drum samples. The relaxing melancholy of the bass-driven title track “Being No One, Going Nowhere” is a fitting and enjoyable close to the record.
While there are a good number of decent tracks on the record, for every decent song there is a mediocre song to accompany it. In fact, about half of the record is lackluster compared to the others. “When I’m With You” sounds more like a watered-down house track to be played on loop at a club than psychedelic rock. It combines a simple and repetitive melody with the odd chime or piano chord. The vocals in this track are just barely there and sound like an afterthought to the repetitive beat. “Never Ever” is extremely similar to “Tape Machine.” It sounds like they removed the phase noises, turned up the pitch on the synth and slightly changed the chords and melodies. It is easily overshadowed by “Tape Machine” in almost every way. “Dark Days” seems to suffer from a similar affliction to “When I’m With You.” While the track does have some interesting jazz organ samples, it is also very repetitive and sounds more like basic disco music. These tracks, while not necessarily bad, are so underwhelming compared to the rest of the cuts from the record that it feels almost unfinished.
STRFKR is widely recognized in the indie rock community for a reason. They have a unique and relaxing psychedelic garage-rock sound that is easily distinguishable from other similar bands. This sound hasn’t been lost with the new record, but it hasn’t been developed any further either. While the record does offer some catchy and interesting tunes, a lot of them pale in comparison to their previous work. Time will tell whether “Being No One, Going Nowhere” marks STRFKR’s plateau as a band or if it is just a bump in the road on the way to bigger and better things.
Caption: STRFKR hasn’t lost their sound with “Being No One, Going Nowhere,” but they haven’t developed it either.
Credit: G. Ducanis