Debut albums don’t come much more hotly anticipated than Starcrawler’s first record. The throwback rock ‘n’ rollers, inspired by theatrical rockers such as Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper as much as they’re inspired by garage punkers The Cramps and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, are here to make rock ‘n’ roll exciting again. It’s beginning to show, too, with the likes of Elton John, Dave Grohl and Gerard Way all waxing lyrical about the LA band, and their debut album is testament to the hype. In many ways, it showcases the flamboyance of Elton John, the moody bombshells akin to My Chemical Romance and the hardened rock aesthetic of a certain Mr Grohl.
Produced by Ryan Adams, who described the band as “So fucking insanely good. Soon they will rule this galaxy”, it’s a ten-track album that is commendable in its economy. It’s a short record – clocking in at under half an hour – but it executes everything a debut album should. It’s operatic, ostentatiously offering an account of what the Starcrawler project is all about, and it balances its influences with fresh and contemporary idiosyncrasies. Crucially, too, it’s a record that reflects their live shows, an important aspect that won them so many plaudits in the first place.
The record is built on short, two-minute bursts of energy. In many ways, this is a punk record with all the gloss and shimmer of a 21st Century art project. Opening with the 82-second long ‘Train’, it’s a firecracker of a start for any record but, excitingly, it only gets more balls to the wall from there. Throughout the record, there’s almost musical genre namechecks. For example, ‘I Love LA’ has a chorus very similar to Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, whereas elsewhere they slip into a punkier, maybe even heavy metal sound on the likes of ‘Different Angles’ and ‘Full of Pride’.
It’s a weird and wonderful world that Starcrawler create. Their imagination holds for one of the most coercive listens you could have. For a band of such a young age, Starcrawler is a seductive listen. From ‘Pussy Tower’ to ‘Chicken Woman’, they create repugnant environments and situations with the glamour and gloss of a T-Rex record. Most of this comes through front lady Arrow de Wilde, who is a dominating presence throughout. From her blood-spitting, Iggy Pop-esque strutting live show to her crackerjack, imposing vocals on the record, she has all the attributes to be the latest queen of rock ‘n’ roll and a real cult figure of the music industry.
They’re not afraid to take things down a notch, either. ‘Tears’, a sultry, sizzling slowdance of a song, moves the band into a new territory. Reminiscent of the likes of The Cranberries and Martha and the Muffins, de Wilde’s sensuous repeating of: “I need you now” is enough to make anyone’s heart skip a beat. Seductive, sensual and serene, it’s a different dimension to the band that we haven’t heard before.
From beginning to end, Starcrawler create a raucous wall of sound so completely compelling, diverse and provocative it could only come from them. Impressively, their brand of meteoric, abrasive rock ‘n’ roll arouse feelings of other bands from varying genres, yet they’re completely believable as a band in their own right. This is about as high-octane as rock ‘n’ roll gets – and Starcrawler will only get better. Remarkable, exciting and so utterly cool, that’s the Starcrawler ethos.