When describing the typical band on Deep Elm, a label notorious for its Emo Diaries compilations, certain adjectives come to mind: “delicate,” “heartfelt,” and, of course, “emotional.” It should seem odd then that I listened to the new Starmarket album while aggresively working out in the basement.
Knowing that, you can probably guess that Starmarket is not your typical Deep Elm band.
“Intense” is the word that best sums up Starmarket’s sound. On Calendar, the band’s first American-released full-length, guitars roar louder than jets and the bass rumbles at a menacing volume, creating indie rock soundscapes more powerful than a cannon. All the while, Frederik Brandstrom’s singing never approaches a scream, and as Starmarket’s rock explodes around his voice like a bomb, his relatively peaceful vocals counter that noise to craft a sound much more urgent and strong than that which would be created by mindless shouting.
The music is intricate but never slow. Think Archers of Loaf with double the power. Imagine Sicko getting serious. It’s an amazing sound, and the album’s 32 fiery minutes seem to roar by in about half that time.
Throughout the record, Brandstrom rails against both himself and others, but you never sense anger or frustration in his voice. The music is easily strong enough to enforce those emotions. By the time Brandstrom chastizes a lover 25 minutes into the disc with the lines “You left me cold down to the bone…You’ll be alone and die on your own,” you’re worn out and left numb yourself. At that point there’s only one song left, and when it closes with the words “no more” you’re almost relieved.
You’re gassed. The intensity of the last half hour has left you begging for air. What next? The answer is easy. You shake it all off and play Calendar all over again because the album is so damn good.