Various Artists

Star Gazing

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Star Gazing is a 13-track rounding up of modern electronic artists who straddle the line between electronica and indie rock. Artists like Maximilian Hecker, whose "Infinite Love Song" is a highlight, and Ladytron add the trappings of electronic music (synths, drum machines) to their otherwise indie song stylings. Groups like Soviet and Schneider TM work in the opposite direction, adding indie rock touches (song structure, wispy vocals) to their otherwise electronic sound. There is nothing especially new about this phenomenon, as one only needs to look back to New Order (as the Alpine Stars certainly have) to confirm this, but in the year 2003 it became a vital force on both scenes. The best songs here, Lali Puna's "Fast Forward" and Blue States' "Your Girl," make a convincing blend of the two styles and come up with something interesting. Unfortunately too many of the artists here seem content trying to recreate synth pop. G.D. Luxxe and Solvent's "Quiet Life" and the Alpine Stars' "77 Sunset Strip" sound like they were the songs on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack that weren't hits. While there is some pleasure in hearing that era recreated so devotedly, it ultimately is nothing more than a pointless exercise in nostalgia. Star Gazing is a good reflection of the sound of indie electronic music circa 2003. Whether it is a fulfilling listening experience depends on the listener's tolerance for nostalgia.

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