The Portland trio Starfucker is publicly dedicated to making what frontman Joshua Hodges calls "dance music you can actually listen to." Mostly that means real drums and muted rock production, which their newest album Reptilians puts to varying use. The album alternates between upbeat-though-quiet rock tunes like "Born" and more openly dancey tracks like "Millions." A little more bass and it would be club music, but instead we get acoustic guitar.
So really what we're talking about is pop. That's a dirty word among the sort of hip young persons who make up Starfucker's audience, but anyone who rejects the music as bubblegum indie is missing out. By channeling the epic aesthetic of dance through the restrained instrumentation of rock, Starfucker makes tracks that feel big but sound small. The result is twitchy and upbeat even asit remains understated—headphone music for a rainy day.
Sometimes preciousness wins out, and Reptilians periodically runs into the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots problem of sounding like it was written while someone played Nintendo in the background. Mostly, though, it's catchy and inventive in a way that reminds us pop music doesn't have to be stupid. It only has to be fun. (Dan Brooks)
Starfucker plays the Badlander Monday, October 3, at 9 PM with Sick Kids XOXO, plus DJs Michael Gill and TJ Baker. $10.