“Sometimes it feels like there’s no way out” sings Little Star’s Dan Byers on ‘Yamaguchi’, and while this sense of futility carries through this self-titled effort, it’s a disarming moment in an album that is bruised and honest in equal measure.
For the most part, ‘Little Star’ is a gorgeously arranged, low-key and lo-fi album, punctured by moments of irreverent frustration (‘Calming Ritual #2’) and flashes of anger and frustration that boil over as unfettered howls and jazzy freak-outs. At first it makes for a challenging listen; tortured and obstinate but driven by personality and a clear sense of self.
It’s made all the more confusing by the way in which Little Star make music that is subtly infectious and breezily unhurried, but simultaneously spiky and ragged. For example, ‘Linda Blair’ fizzes with post-punk attitude, offset by some clear and obvious indie-pop hooks, Byers coming off like of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes.
For some, such a blurring of boundaries and unfocussed nature will surely be too much. But then Little Star don’t seem to be ones for writing easy hits, and this testing nature works well alongside the sombre subject matter.
Yet for all this, ‘Little Star’ does reward patience. Indeed, when they put all the pieces together it makes for thrilling music, coupling lyrical insight with music that feels like the same calm found in the eye of a hurricane. It works best on the pulsating ‘Improv’ and ‘Annacortes’, where it feels like Little Star are falling apart at the seams.
Music should be uncompromising; a distillation of ideas from the protagonists that rings true to their ideals and ideas. ‘Little Star’ is unflinching in its honesty and for that Dan Byers and Julian Morris should be applauded – even if the end result might be too raw for many to stomach.
‘Little Star’ by Little Star is out now on Good Cheer Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)