Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
Club AC30/The Reverberation Appreciation Society
Apr 29, 2020
By Dom Gourlay
Sometimes, a break is as good as a rest, and in the case of Texan shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr, it’s more than paid dividends. Nearly five years on from their last LP, Pure Mood, and with no imminent sign of any new music for most of that period, it wasn’t amiss for the odd rumor to surface that they’d called it a day.
Thankfully, those rumors couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead, founding member, guitarist, and vocalist Elliott Frazier became a first-time father during the interim years. With that drastic lifestyle change came a new way of working. Whereas previous Ringo Deathstarr albums had been written and recorded over a matter of months, this one took a couple of years to complete. Most of the recording process took place in Frazier’s home as opposed to structured, month-long blocks in the studio.
Much of the inspiration for this self-titled album undoubtedly came from Frazier’s embracement of fatherhood, but it also came from more tragic circumstances—the mother of bass player/vocalist Alex Gehring passed away around the same time. Influenced by themes of life from an introspective point of view, the trio—completed by Daniel Coburn’s powerhouse drumming—create arguably their finest collection of songs to date.
The sonic malevolence of yore can still be found, particularly on the existential “God Help the Ones You Love” or semi-autobiographical “Gazin.” The vocal interplay between Gehring and Frazier that’s characterized all Ringo Deathstarr’s output from their humble beginnings nearly a decade and a half ago can also be heard at regular intervals in this LP.
There’s a combined sense of bliss and catharsis throughout the album’s thirteen pieces, whether it be through delay-fueled ambience with a pop sensibility (“In Your Arms”), four-to-the-floor garage rock (“Once Upon a Freak”), or Gehring’s deeply personal vignette “Disease.”
Elsewhere, “Heaven Obscured” might just be the most experimental three minutes in Ringo Deathstarr’s entire canon, with epic closer “Cotton Candy Clouds” ending the album on a dreamy high.
Ringo Deathstarr represents the band’s finest hour, and with it, another of 2020’s seemingly never-ending musical gems. (www.ringodeathstarr.org)
Author rating: 8/10
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