Devour You

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With very rare exceptions, no one has gone very far in rock & roll by convincing people they were nice and well-behaved, and Starcrawler know their rock history well enough to know it's in their best interest to seem like a threat to public decency. On their self-titled 2018 debut album, Starcrawler went out of their way to seem violent and lascivious, like a raunchy punk- and glam-infused fever dream co-authored by Kim Fowley and Larry Clark, which worked either because or in spite of most of the band being still in their teens when they cut it. On their second long-player, 2019's Devour You, they've eased back on the lyrical decadence just a bit (no songs about oral sex this time, though there is one about masturbation) but have pumped up the guitars and drums, and thanks to producer and engineer Nick Launay, they've managed to sound glossier and dirtier at the same time. Clearly obsessed with the '70s, from the Stones/Faces raunch of "No More Pennies" to the Kiss-leaning growl of "Hollywood Ending," Starcrawler blend the snot of pop punk, the swagger of glam rock, and the eager darkness of vintage metal with the arrogantly blank vocal sneer of Arrow de Wilde, who sounds like the love child of Cherie Currie and Aubrey Plaza. That said, if de Wilde often sounds like she hates you (or someone else nearby) despite the fact she doesn't actually care, the band sound tougher and more locked in on their second effort. Henri Cash's guitar has gained some welcome muscle and flexibility, barking with a new degree of authority, while bassist Tim Franco and drummer Austin Smith are tight enough to hold these songs together and loose enough to put both groove and attitude behind the music. In terms of their persona, Starcrawler seem less like they want to lead you astray and more like they're acting out in hopes of getting their parents' attention, which isn't always good for these songs. But the music on Devour You is just raw and sweaty enough to conjure up some forgotten after-school special about falling in with the wrong crowd, and if that isn't hitting a bull's-eye for them, it's at least somewhere on the target.

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