Released: May 15, 2009
By: Jeff Han
n a lot of ways Oklahoma based Stardeath and the White Dwarfs typify the quintessential brother band. The band is often a support act for The Flaming Lips, their lead singer (Dennis Coyne) is a nephew to Lips' lead singer (Wayne Coyne), and the two share-a label, cover artist, photographer, style, and lyrical ideology. Even their sound echoes a lot of the Flaming Lips, epitomized most on the title track that references the keyboard playing and back track vocalizing of their brother band's multi-instrumentalist, Steven Drozd. The track even channels former Lips guitarist and Mercury Rev player, Jonathan Donahue. What could have been a band no better at generic aping, though, is quickly done away by their determination to build a sound that homages their parent rather than one that merely mimes it. Their lyrics don't drift into the obscure like Wayne Coyne's often do, their sound is much more hard hitting than (recent) Lips have known to be, and they're reserved but not diminished in sonic textures than their studio head forerunners. Highlight tracks like "I Can't Get Away," a fun little groove with a memorable bass line, and "Smokin' Pot Makes Me Want To Kill Myself," about the sanctity of communal solitude and the fleeting moments of youth, show the group at their best. Stardeath and the White Dwarfes are a band that haven't forgotten their debt but, like a child to a parent, they use their predecessors to define their framework, not fill it.