Starbenders' Take Back The Night is a hodgepodge of lukewarm ideas only saved from disaster by the talent of Kimi Shelter

Georgian glam rockers Starbenders' third album Take Back The Night fails badly to deliver on the promise of sex, drugs and romantic turmoil

Starbenders 2023
(Image: © Press/Sumerian)

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Starbenders watch the TV, nipple tape and leather-induced chafe glimmering in the technicolour warmth. On the screen, Måneskin. They’re dressed just like Starbenders, stealing a win at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. Starbenders clench their fists, grit their teeth. Steam spaffs from their ears, drowning out the foghorn of a boat being missed. 

The Georgian glam rockers’ third record snorts and shags the Måneskinian promise of SEX! DRUGS! ROMANTIC TURMOIL! into the ground, limply. You want a song called Sex? You got it. Lyrics like ‘I wanna fuck what’s dead inside’? That’s from another song about sex, not called Sex

Kimi Shelter – Kimi Shelter! Like Gimme Shelter! – is unquestionably a great vocalist, gunning for Joan Jett and Siouxsie Sioux. Sometimes, she gets there. Take Say You Will. Sure, it starts like a song from Cats, and features a synth break Electric Six would employ on a track discussing laundry detergent. But she nails that husky, shirt-tugging shtick. Other times she sounds like Miley Cyrus doing Turbonegro. She’s always interesting, mind. The band, less so. 

Starbenders never had the sturdiest instrumental footprint, cribbing early 70s Bowie with a snarled punk lip, dashes of fuzzy psych riffs, and hammy keys. It used to be charming, if occasionally cloying and uneven. Now, any nuggets of intrigue are stumbled upon rather than sought. The first two tracks incongruously excavate Him’s keyboards from ’97, then there’s an early-days Taylor Swift-ish ballad about taking someone’s virginity. Dunno. 

Cruelly, they stick The End Is Near midway through, the aimless cover of Alice Cooper’s Poison just a twinkle in the musical milkman’s eye. It’s frustrating, because Starbenders can write stirring tunes – Midnight proves that, it’s just 40 minutes too late. Take Back The Night isn’t irredeemable, but it’s a hodgepodge of lukewarm ideas, Kimi’s voice staving the cold off.

Take Back The Night is out September 22 via Sumerian

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.