The Seattle duo (and their mannequin drummer) return with another slew of stupor-pendous songs on Last Star Shining, the pair's sophomore set. Across 16 tracks and a hidden number, Jen Garrett and Will Troy's breezy, iridescent, not quite lo-fi music shines bright. Where to start? How about towards the middle with the duo's joie de vivre laced cover of Cat Stevens' "If You Want to Sing Out," a song brimming with cheer and delivered up in the airiest punk rock style imaginable: think featherweight Ramones. The set's other cover, a fabulous take on the Flaming Lips' "You Have to Be Joking," is even more inspired, with crashing Who-esque power chords straight into twangy country guitar. Even more impressive is "Solarium," which beautifully evokes proggy hard rock, while remaining as gentle as a lamb. "Prisoners of War," in contrast, is a hoot, hitting just about every hard rock-prog rock-jazz fusion touchstone in under a minute-and-a-half. The majestic "Lobotomy Hill," meanwhile, captures the epic heights of orchestral '60s rock in even shorter time. As for the acid-drenched hidden track with its repeated refrain of "Let your freak flag fly," it perfectly re-creates and subverts psychedelia in all its glory. At their core, though, Stuporhero are pop fans, and there's a slew of unadulterated, flawless poppers within, with a standout being the exuberantly bouncy "Superball" and the harmony-laced, synth-spaced "Deathbot." Both numbers end in heartbreak, with the latter a real hankie grabber, while the giddy "Chasing Fireflies," echoes of the pleasures of childhood but whirls with darker shadows. Yearning for the past, worried for the future, even a "21 Beer Salute" hints that rarely does all end well. But Stuporhero bright music, gentle atmospheres, and sweet vocals infuse even the saddest tales with a tinge of hope, and if not, move one to dance along until happiness finally arrives.
Last Star Shining Review
by Jo-Ann Greene