May 09, 2005

Starflyer 59 "Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice"

They’ve been around for years, but Starflyer 59 keeps getting better and better. Though the band’s almost always been Jason Martin working with whoever happens to be around, it’s never affected Starflyer 59’s prolific output. For the past ten years, Martin and company have experimented with shoegaze, dream pop and straight up indie rock, and they’ve released a handful of really excellent records. Comparisons to bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Swervedriver haven’t been without merit, and their albums Old, Gold and The Fashion Focus are all classics. Like fans of other prolific bands like Guided by Voices and The Fall, those who love Starflyer 59 love the band's songwriting formula as much as the songs themselves.

Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice finds Martin ditching the grittier sounds of their most recent releases for a sound that’s as at times moody and upbeat and compellingly lush. Though frustratingly brief, the album’s nine songs are dreamy but never narcotic; they are lush, but never sappy; upbeat, but never overwhelmingly positive. Occasionally, on songs "Good Sons" and "A Good Living," the band sounds a lot like New Order, but fortunately, they never sound too much like New Order. Other songs like the excellent "Easy Street" and "Softness, Goodness" are typical of the rest of Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice: mellow and pretty, somewhat dark, but never threatening or negative. That these already blissed-out songs are accentuated with some excellent string arrangements--check out the gorgeous "Night Life"-- makes the album even nicer.

Starflyer 59 has quietly become one of the best independent bands today, period. Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice certainly carries on the band’s tradition of excellence. For those who already love Starflyer 59, the record's a return to form after a brief stylistic shift; for those who haven't experienced this excellent band, Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice is a lush aural treat.

--Joseph Kyle

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