Stardeath And White Dwarfs - The Birth (Warners)

Laura Bruneau | Saturday, 22 August 2009

Stardeath And White Dwarfs - The Birth (Warners) Their chameleon-like ability to adapt and alter style, combined with a blistering supply of well-crafted talent, results in the joyful delivery (no doubt after many hours of epidural inducing labor) of Stardeath And White Dwarfs' debut album The Birth.

Forceps at the ready, the first thing to crown is 'The Sea Is On Fire'. With an earth-shattering squeal of guitar distortion, this formidable offering emerges kicking and screaming into the world. Drawing heavily on Led Zeppelin, with hints of '70s Hendrix psychedelia, this makes for a stunning introduction to an album with a very strong musical genealogy.

Much to our dilating delight, Stardeath And White Dwarfs also manage to twin these influences with Beach Boys-style barbershop on 'Keep Score' and title track 'The Birth'. More wan and melancholic than 'Keep Score', gruff guitar distortion cuts across the vulnerable atonal backing of 'The Birth' like a clamped umbilical cord. Gentle ethereal vocals work as a lullaby to soothe the crying baby that begins moaning towards the end of the song and sets it gurgling instead alongside tinkling keyboards and a resurgence of pulsating guitar rhythms.

Strategic composition, both within individual tracks and the construction of the album as a whole, shines through with the cyclical variation of genres. Moving through Zeppelin and barbershop to funk on 'I Can't Get Away', this track mixes a strutting bassline and electric horns with that recurring distorted guitar and cute tuned percussion, evoking images of a dancing skeleton rapping out a tune on its own ribcage. In contrast, 'The Age Of The Freak' can best be described as Blur finding metal influences before jumping in the sack with Richard Ashcroft.

Perhaps it's the drugs or emotional exhaustion, but by the end of The Birth the band already seem to have collapsed. At just over half an hour in length The Birth leaves Stardeath And White Dwarfs' listeners hungry for more but in an abrupt rather than satisfying manner. Compounding this is final track 'Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want To Kill Myself', a Coldplay-esque foray into banality which amounts to a disappointingly bland end to such an impressive album.

Definitely worth keeping an eye, or two, on, Stardeath And White Dwarfs have nonetheless delivered what is one of the most promising debut albums of recent years and would be well worth catching live on their upcoming UK tour supporting the Flaming Lips.

Rating: 4.5/5