2016 Album Highlight: STRFKR

If STRFKR got one thing right about this album, it has to be the cover. The ethereal album cover by collage artist Mariano Peccinetti that displays a man painting dazzling galaxies perfectly sets the spacey mood that Being No One, Going Nowhere portrays. Although the Portland native group’s fourth album came out well over a year ago, I find myself coming back to it time and time again because just about every song is a banger. I will admit I was nervous to give this record a listen for the first time because I knew Miracle Mile would be a hard album to follow because of how strong of project it is. That album has to be one of my all time favorites. To say the least, my expectations for this album were pretty high.

If you like one song on the album, you’re bound to like them all because to be quite honest, they all kind of sound a like. That’s not a bad thing though! If you like really cohesive albums, this will be right up your alley because Being No One Going Nowhere is a 41 minute long psychedelic dance pop journey through space. I like how this album doesn’t have any “throw-away” tracks so to speak and how each song feels completely crafted and a necessary element to the album as a whole. With that being said, the album could be perceived as repetitive and lacking variety. The difficulty I sometimes have distinguishing between songs is unique to this Being No One, Going Nowhere in comparison to some of their past projects that feature pretty stand alone tracks.

Although this album is characteristic to STRFKR’s unique dance indie pop sound, the group is still managing to keep their sound fresh. I think their sound is continuing to evolve from their past work such as Miracle Mile and Jupiter. With the release of each new album, the group is growing more and more as musicians and experimenting with new elements in each album. In Being No One, Going Nowhere, lyrically (although admittedly as a listener, the lyrics weren’t my main focus for this album because at times it can be hard to understand what lead singer Joshua Hodges is saying), the songs explore self identity and our place in the world. The title of the album captures some of the themes that run throughout the project beautifully. 

Here I am with my boyfriend seeing STRFKR last July in Emo’s in Austin.

The album opens with “Tape Machine,” a track that begins with a repeating synth beat that’s met with a guitar melody that immediately draws listeners in and prepares them for the mood of the album. The album moves along with similar psychedelic synth and guitar melodies. The drawn out synth and thumping bass featured on the fourth song, “Something Ain’t Right” sounds right out of a pivotal scene in an eighties teen movie. It seems that this album begins more upbeat and progressively slows down and speeds up in each song. This can especially be seen in “Open Your Eyes” as it begins with a softer sound that steadily becomes more upbeat as it leads into the chorus and again swells back down to the slower tempo. So this album is 11 songs long with five beginning songs then the interlude “interspace” and then the five closing songs. I love this obvious breakdown of the album. Even the lack of capitalization marks the interlude cleverly titled “interspace” as something different. The one minute long track features an Alan Watts speech about individualism and our relationship to the galaxies over a funky synth melody. I like how this song breaks the album up almost as like a commercial break between the songs. It shows that it’s important to listen to Being No One, Going Nowhere in order, at least for the first time. 

Being No One, Going Nowhere is piece of art in itself as whole with each song telling a story and acting as a puzzle piece that contributes to and adds clarity to the album in its own way.

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