Portland, Oregon indie electro act STRFKR started out as the song ideas of Josh Hodges, equal parts sweaty dance beats and indie hooks brought into focus by a synthesis of live instrumentation and electronic programming. Earlier albums like their self-titled 2008 debut and 2009 EP Jupiter were essentially homespun recordings coming alive, while 2011's Reptilians expanded their palette and their songwriting chops, as well as drawing comparisons to similarly minded electro-rock mixers like MGMT and Cut Copy. With third album Miracle Mile, a few things have changed for the quartet, and there are some immediately noticeable differences. Longtime contributor Ryan Bjornstad left the band before the recording of the album, his slot filled by once-touring guitarist Patrick Morris. In addition to the lineup shift, Miracle Mile is the first fully collaborative effort from the group. Following ceaseless touring leading up to the writing process, the entire band stole away to a remote seaside town to compose all of the 15 songs on this epic album. Instead of Hodges working as the primary songwriter, every lyric, riff, and beat was created collectively, resulting in some of the most refined and focused songs from the band to date. The dance-friendly feel of Reptilians continues here, with almost every track diving deep into a simmering midtempo strut. The album kicks off in a heavy disco mode, with Shawn Glassford's slinky basslines driving heavy burners like "Malmö" and the standout album-opener "While I'm Alive." The glowing pulse of "Atlantis" taps into just enough '80s Top 40 mojo, followed by "Leave It All Behind" with its Human League-styled keyboards and relentlessly syrupy beat somewhere between Soft Cell and Glass Candy. Miracle Mile's running time approaches an hour, which could seem overly long were it not for the unhurried groove that runs throughout most of the album. By the time we get to "Golden Light" and "Nite Rite," the one-two punch that closes the album, the icy beats and slow-motion tempos sum up the journey of nuanced late-night moods that is Miracle Mile. As a fully realized collaboration, this record sees STRFKR dimming the lights just a little bit and coming into their own more than ever before.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas