Without question, the Denver area music scene keeps getting better by the day. What it lacks in national prominence, it makes up in the collective commitment of the region’s bands, venues, promoters and media. Perhaps at a similar stage in its growth, local band Starfuzz is both young and promising, yet not quite ready for primetime.
With the release of its first full-length effort, You Are Food, Starfuzz takes a bold step in introducing a blend that combines age-old rock harmonies, wildly dissonant pop hooks and a steady rhythmic backbeat reminiscent of both ‘60s psychedelia and ‘70s arena anthems. Nowhere is this formula more apparent than in songs like the opening cut “Better Rockets,” with its indie rock appeal, throwback melodies and Skynyrd-inspired guitar solo.
But what makes Starfuzz’s sound a step above your average retro pop act is its ability to also mix in more current influences. “Thread” lures the listener in with its melancholy moog and Maroon 5 melodies, while “Circles” relies on Coldplay sensibilities, all the way down to its Chris Martin vocal work.
By and large, Starfuzz’s debut is an impressive start, especially given the DIY nature of its origin. Where the band falters is in its tendency to force the issue by trying to do too much with its orchestration. Diversity is generally a welcome entity, but finding its signature voice will not only eliminate the band’s obvious missteps, it will also go a long way in helping it establish a more consistent sound from the first song to the last.
Highlights include “Black Car” – a pleasant nod to The Doors – and “Oregon,” which is perhaps the secret to Starfuzz’s future success. Lowlights like the group’s new-age instrumentals are compelling enough by their own right but are hopelessly out of place – again, an issue of trying to cover too much ground. What the album might lose on its weaker songs, Starfuzz more than compensates for with five or six strong cuts and the promise of an even brighter sophomore effort.