Album review: Starbenders – Take Back The Night

Starbenders board the nostalgia train for their third album, but sometimes it derails…

Album review: Starbenders – Take Back The Night
Emma Wilkes

Take one look at Starbenders, and you know their mission: to resurrect good old fashioned rock’n’roll in a blaze of glory (and a big cloud of hairspray). Switch on the Californian rockers’ third album, and it’s obvious what they’re striving for – to be bombastic, dangerous, life-affirming – but they have a heavy case to argue for. When there’s so much boundary-destroying music out there, is being resurrectionist the most exciting thing you can do?

Starbenders’ argument isn’t always the most convincing, even when they press their foot down hard on the gas. While Sex bristles with determination, not to mention some thunderous riffs, its contrived, predictable lyrics – 'I don’t want to be in love, just want your sex, taste your tears / I don’t want to know your name' – mean it feels tepid more than hot-blooded. Elsewhere, Body Talk and Poison in particular lean on the wrong side of retro, and while they certainly could have been brought back from a time machine as souvenirs from the ’80s, they come off as derivative.

There’s glimmers of hope, however. The atmospheric We’re Not OK oozes existential angst, while the gritty riffs of The End Is Near offers a much-needed shot of adrenaline, and the barbed Blood Moon would deliver the same if it weren’t for several questionable kneejerk changes of tempo. They’ve also have a compelling leader in the form of Kimi Shelter, whose husky vocals offer lashings of personality. Despite its periodic bursts of potential, the record also lacks concision – there’s also a lot of mid-paced filler that leaves the back half of this record sagging and, crucially, unmemorable.

Take Back The Night won’t necessarily leave a foul taste in your mouth, but sadly, it’s some way off being the ferocious, energising behemoth it wishes it was.

Verdict: 2/5

For fans of: Starcrawler, Greta Van Fleet, Palaye Royale

Take Back The Night is released on September 22 via Sumerian

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