The '80s Are Gone, but the Joke's the Same—Pretty in Pink

Too bad John Hughes isn't making the kind of movies he used to, because stellastarr*'s self-titled debut is a prom soundtrack worthy of Ducky. Between Shawn Christensen's Ian Curtis drama, the Pixies throb of Amanda Tannen's bass, and Arthur Kremer's tinny hi-hat drive, the Pratt-grown local band sounds like the most bittersweet night of adolescence.

Although stellastarr* will inevitably be compared to the Cure—"Moongirl" could be an instrumental "Love Song"—what sets them apart is the jocular interplay between Christensen's basso profundo bravado and Tannen's girly, gliding hiccup. Their most buoyant songs ("Jenny," "Somewhere Across Forever") seduce with disco-shimmy rhythm and nervous energy.

Sixteen candles down the drain
photo: Phil Knott
Sixteen candles down the drain

Stellastarr*'s words, all simple metaphors and dramatized darkness, could be journal entries by girls whom Blaine was too embarrassed to take to the dance, or freaks who came to Saturday-morning detention because they had nothing better to do: the self-conscious poetry of teenage longing. It'd be easy to dismiss, say, "I walked away from my disease/And the cure is lying next to me/And I'm trying so hard...to be what you're dreaming of," if the lines weren't set against such shimmering guitar jangle and hypnotic abundance of cymbals. Meant to be worn out from repeated play: just like your videotape of Sixteen Candles.

 
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