Stardeath and White Dwarfs

Wastoid

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    8
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On their major-label debut, The Birth, Oklahoma psych-rock purveyors Stardeath and White Dwarfs felt like a band standing in the shadow of fellow OKC residents and freak rock pioneers the Flaming Lips. While the album had its merits, it often struggled to find its own voice (even the cover art felt more representative of what the Lips' were doing at the time than anything else), making for a promising but uneven introduction to the world. With their sophomore effort, Wastoid, the band find the consistency they so desperately needed, combining their influences into a sound that feels like their own and not a hand-me-down. It feels as though the band's songwriting has grown to match their ambition, giving the album a looser, more effortless vibe. Without the pressure of putting out a debut for Warner Bros, Stardeath and White Dwarfs are free to simply kick back and create, allowing the album to expand and breathe with a quiet confidence that lets the band focus on creating a good groove and seeing where it takes them. This comes through on a track like "Frequency," which just sort of simmers along, slowly building itself up before eventually paying off not with a fuzzed-out crescendo, but rather a blissed-out folk interlude. These moments of self-restraint show a band that has learned to look past what should go into a song and see what could go in. And while the album isn't without rapturous explosions of sound, like the sublime crash and bang melody that opens up "Guess I'll Be Okay," everything feels like it's in the right place. Stardeath and White Dwarfs have fully harnessed the power of their exploratory and hopeful sound, making Wastoid a brilliant follow-up to an otherwise ho-hum debut that should hopefully inspire more than a few people to give these guys a second look.

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