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