With their ninth album, 2005's Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, Starflyer 59 get back on course. Their last album, 2004's I Am the Portuguese Blues, was a strange step back in time that had the group recording songs that main Starflyer Jason Martin had written some six years before. It sounded exactly like what it was -- a backwards leap into the noisy past. This record is a more natural follow-up to 2003's Old, dealing as it does in the same lush sonic textures, laid-back tempos, and melancholy lyrics. Although Martin has stripped the band down to just himself and drummer Frank Lenz, he has come up with the band's lushest, most arranged album yet. Perhaps it is due to the presence of the strings that pop up in most of the songs; maybe it is down to the electronic textures that percolate through the album. Probably it is a combination of the two, along with Martin's continuing growth as a songwriter and producer. At times calling to mind the best of New Order at their poppiest ("Good Sons," "A Good Living"), Slowdive at their most emotional ("Softness, Goodness"), and the epic grandeur of Swervedriver ("Easy Street"), Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice is the work of a band at its peak. Whether you are a fan of the return of the shoegaze sound or just in love with good guitar pop, don't overlook Starflyer 59. Thanks to albums like this, they are right up there with the best bands around.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra