Album review: Greta Van Fleet – Starcatcher

Nature-loving retro rockers Greta Van Fleet take us on a third magical mystery trip on the inspiring Starcatcher…

Album review: Greta Van Fleet – Starcatcher
Steve Beebee

Like 2021's The Battle At Garden's Gate, a Top Tenn-er on both sides of the Atlantic, Greta Van Fleet's new music will need time and the engagement of your brain to work its gentle magic – Mötley Crüe this ain't. The band, according to singer Josh Kiszka, preserve their sanity by seeking clarity in open spaces. That love of nature’s near mystical allure shines brightly in what might otherwise have been a difficult third album.

Starcatcher is full of delightful contrasts, none of them jarring. The music remains emotive and mountainous in scale, but there's no fat here, no pomp-filled production. Josh's crystalline wail seems to almost reverberate, as if sung to you from trees and hills. Guitar playing twin brother Jake, definitely the album's star performer, dazzles with unexpected flurries of note-making and tone. And some of their songs, some of their stranger ideas, are their best to date.

While opener Fate Of The Faithful and apt closer Farewell For Now have graceful retro rock presence, it's in the masterful The Archer and deliciously over the top first video Meeting The Master that this album's real virtue lies. The former is a candidate for the quartet's finest creation, the kind of weirdly timeless, skin-tingling anthem that invites each listener to invoke their own interpretation, while the latter is a glorious paean to the band’s justly beloved great outdoors.

Sacred The Thread offers more divine intervention, while on the notably more upfront The Falling Sky, they throw in a harmonica solo that somehow elevates rather than distracts. In contrast, the driving rock of Runway Blues seems a missed opportunity; a full pelt rocker that mysteriously melts away after a minute. No matter; Starcatcher is the work of a band not phased by success, but continuing to develop its art. With a nod to the classic rock that inspired them, Greta Van Fleet continue to contort those great influences in challenging and evocative new directions.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Rush, Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons

Starcatcher is released on July 21 via Lava / Republic

Read this: Brotherhood, burnout and belief: How Greta Van Fleet took on the world – and won

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