STRFKR: Being No One, Going Nowhere

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Being No One, Going Nowhere attempts to explore intellectual themes while still retaining the band’s vivacious dance pop.


Being No One, Going Nowhere

Label: Polyvinyl
US Release Date: 2016-11-04
UK Release Date: 2016-11-04

It's hard to believe that Joshua Hodge's band STRFKR, who just two albums ago covered Cyndi Lauper's “Girls Just Want to Have Fun", are now infusing Eastern philosophy into their psyched-out dance pop. The result of this odd fusion furthers the band's attempt to move in a more serious direction and yields perhaps their best work yet.

Written mainly by Hodges as he wandered around the sparsely beautiful Joshua Tree desert in California, Being No One, Going Nowhere attempts to explore intellectual themes while still retaining the band's vivacious dance pop. If their last album, Miracle Mile was Hodges' fearful exploration of his own mortality, then this time around he seems more at peace with the prospect of death, and more anxious about how to live. Being No One, Going Nowhere finds Hodges contemplating his own personal identity, meditating largely on his place in the cosmos and the quiet struggle of individuality and personality.

Hodges explains the origins of this concept as “Kind of an eastern idea I read about. Not totally sure I understand it, but as far as I think I get it, it has to do with our commitment and attachment to our sense of self, like who we think we are. 'I am Josh Hodges of Portland, of that band, etc.' Just like all the stories we learn and tell ourselves about ourselves. That belief system can create a lot of suffering." It seems then that Hodges is preferring now, even more than before to take his songwriting approach in a more focused direction that is strikingly personal and aligned to his own personal development. He's taking on difficult concepts, rebelling against the vain conception of individuality, a truly alienating idea for most Western audiences but a bold and important message nonetheless.

These ideas can be heard especially on the album's second half. The vocals grow more distant, as Hodges' voice is absorbed deeper into the cosmic sound coming from his band. The results are dark and sometimes mesmerizing as the band members seem to disappear into one another more than ever (see “Maps" and the strong closer “Being No One, Going Nowhere").

However, with STRFKR's attempt to maintain their very contagious dance beats, the album seems to clash with itself a number of times. For example, the musings of philosopher Alan Watts on the cosmic self amidst a backdrop of trippy synth on “interspace" clashes when paired next to the melodramatic, and adolescent focused “Open Your Eyes". It is their inability then to depart from their “safe zone" that keeps this album from being great, although it certainly finds them moving in the right direction.

In the end, then, STRFKR is taking on larger ideas. However, the end result can't help but sound like a mixed bag that seems like a rehash of their own weathered ideas as well as those of the genre. In other words, Being No One, Going Nowhere is like just another one of the celestial representations hanging in the painter's studio on the album's cover, closer to a quiet and sometimes profound replica rather than the real thing. But one can't help but wonder with the theme of this album, is that exactly what Hodges wants it to be?





The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".


Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".


Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".


Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.


Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.


Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.


Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.


The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.


Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.


The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.


Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.