Exploding out of Rough Trade Records is the debut album from Starcrawler. A four piece from LA formed when vocalist Arrow De Wilde met guitarist Henri Cash in 2015 (and then met up with rhythm section Austin Smith and Tim Franco). Not content with releasing the catchiest song ever written about Ants, the band have moved on to cover more basic concerns (OK, sex, violence, and maybe chickens). They’ve already attracted a lot of big name endorsements (like Dave Grohl and Elton John), and the debut album is produced by Ryan Adams. Ants may not be on here, but Starcrawler have delivered ten new tracks showing their brand of glamourous punk rock.
Their sound “Train” sets the scene, clocking in at just over a minute long, – “Train rolling in… well here I go” screams Arrow De Wilde, giving due warning of what’s to come. These’s no gentle introduction, these songs barge in, kick over your trash cans and steal your whisky.
“I Love LA” is the single you may have already heard, Starcrawler’s love for their city coming across as thoroughly genuine, a city where glamour is never far away, even if you’re living and working miles away from the action, and there are areas you might never want to visit. It’s the feelgood moment on the album.
But then “Different Angles” allows De Wilde to threaten your safety, chirpily offering, “I’ll teach you how to die, my friend”, and sounding not unlike X-Ray Spex. Elsewhere on the album, tracks like “Full of Pride” and “Let Her Be” hint at a more classic California punk sound, and slightly echo bands like Crime, the Muffs and X.
Can a track sound epic and still be under 4 minutes long? “Chicken Woman” makes its case as album as album centrepiece. Think a portentous intro, lyrics about chickens, and a guitar freakout fade. “Pussy Tower” is a particular album highlight, with it’s dirty-minded trash talk, the spirit of the Carrie Nations living on in this filthy and funky workout. It’s De Wilde and Cash telling you what they need every day, over reverb so low you might worry for your speakers.
“Tears” is the only thing on here that isn’t delivered full pelt, it’s a slower bluesy number that almost could be described as quieter, but luckily never can be. Before the band close with “What I Want”, which sums up their ethos perfectly, De Wilde snarling “I don’t want to be anything but me” over a steady riff.
In under half an hour Starcrawler have delivered the perfect debut album. There’s no way a band should be able to pack this many hooks and this much attitude into 30 minutes. It should be issued with a warning, when you’ve finished listening to it, you’ll immediately want to see them play it live.