The Sudden Death of Stars

All Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown

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On their second album, 2014's All Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown, the French neo-psych explorers the Sudden Death of Stars travel to the same areas of deep inner space they reached on their debut while branching out just enough to make some nice progression. Though they use less sitar this time out, the same mixture of jangling folk-rock guitars, burbling Farfisas, and spacy vocals conspire to create an equally impressive blend of psych pop. The few additions (like female vocals and a slightly cleaner production) are welcome, as are the improvements in the songwriting department. The hooks overall are a little sharper, the songs more tightly focused -- with nothing stretching past the five-minute mark -- and a few of them, like "Bright Sunday," have a cinematic sweep that unearths some emotional depth that was missing from their debut. There are also plenty of fun and frivolous tunes that will have you frugging wildly ("Blackboard," "Inside Out"), tracks to soundtrack melancholy daydreams ("The Love Substitute," "The Void"), and a whole bunch of songs that sound like an updated Continental version of the Rain Parade ("Halcyon Days," "Pony Tails"). It's a very pleasing sound that the group maintains throughout, and when mixed with songs as smooth and easy as these are, it's perfect music for relaxing and letting the troubles of a busy day fade away. Music that challenges the listener gets all the accolades, so do albums that allegedly break boundaries, but music that makes you feel warm and at peace is arguably just as important. All Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown does exactly that, and even though the Sudden Death of Stars aren't going to win any awards for their efforts, the relaxed smiles on the faces of the people lucky enough to discover the album should be reward enough.

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