Starlight Mints - Drowaton
11.04.06 Barsuk by Eric Nielsen
There are certain things on this album that really hit home for me, and remind me of my childhood when sounds where new and music was fun, lighthearted and not so serious. Sometimes this album sounds like the theme song to The Munsters (Torts, Rhino Stomp). Sometimes there's this falsetto thing and this playful, circus thing going on.
Even though they may be overdone, the Flaming Lips comparisons do make sense. The sonic palette is the same, the pop absurdity level seems similar. Maybe when you are from the same area, overlapping occurs; some sounds are influenced by the aura, landscape, surrealism of where you live. Often you get a Brainiac feeling, or a Pavement vibe, or a kind of Beatles melody line. Most of these songs were recorded in a home studio on the computer with the main vocals being done alone by Allan Vest.
I think you can get a sense of the playfulness and computer headiness of this album through the title Drowaton. The band wanted to choose a new, made up word for the album and then watch on the internet to see how many times it would be searched: a new word for Google. It reminds me of making up phrases in high school and trying to get others to catch on and start saying them. I read in one interview where they said "drowaton" (not a word backwards) had been searched 80,000 times in some time period.
Often the riffs are too similar to everything else that you hear at the House of Blues on Friday night. Other times they really do come across. There is a strong attempt to use strings and horns to flesh out some of the songs, where occasionally the pop blends seamlessly with them. This is their first album on Barsuk and they seem a perfect fit. This music has a sound that especially Barsuk could love.
The backup vocals seem absurd and mocking with a string session that adds to that tone of blissful playfulness at the playground (on The Bee). My favorite sounds on the album come out of the keys: circus pop, catchy. The send-off song Sidewalk is the nicest piece on the album. It has just the right amount of cynicism and seriousness, horns and back up vocals to strike a balance of value. The Killer is also subdued and nice. It's less tongue and cheek than most of the pieces on the disc. The moody pop is the most successful music on the album.
Starlight Mints are on tour now and will be at the Casbah November 4th. I think the pop sounds they've created on this disc would come across strong in their live performances.