The Sudden Death of Stars

Getting Up, Going Down

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French neo-psych explorers the Sudden Death of Stars first caught the ear of their record label (Ample Play, run by Tjinder and Ben of Cornershop) thanks to the use of sitar in their swirling brew of guitars and organs. That might also be the first thing to catch listeners' ears during the first few songs on the group's debut album, Getting Up, Going Down, but once that novelty wears off, the strength of the songs and the surehanded arrangements are more impressive. The group has a heavy debt to the psych bands of the '60s, as well as the psych revivalists from the '90s (especially the Rain Parade), but escape being pale imitators thanks to the same questing spirit that inspired them to drop sitar into the instrumental mix. It leads to songs with meticulously crafted arrangements that are both delicate and surprisingly strong, filled with the aforementioned sitar but also bells, strings, layers of vocal harmonies, and lots of little touches that bring the songs to life. As many bands through the years have shown, it's relatively easy to conjure up a musical sound that captures the approximate spirit and feel of the classic psychedelic pop era, but without the songs it's just so much pretty sonic wallpaper. TSDOS have the songs to match the sound: some that sink deep into the listener's consciousness (the slowly unwinding "I'll Be There," "Song for Laika"); some that jangle brightly and sound like lost Byrds-inspired garage rock nuggets ("Free and Easy," "Chilling Out at Set Time"); a couple murky, heavy jams with seriously trippy overtones ("I'm Not Among Believers," "Space"); and one epic-length track ("Deeds Beyond the Hints") that's sure to be the centerpiece of their live set. The sound plus songs make for an impressively three-dimensional debut that shows the band to be in full command of its presentation and gets all the details just right. The year 2013 was home to a small but hard-hitting psych-pop revival, and the Sudden Death of Stars delivered one of the knockout blows with Getting Up, Going Down.

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