Starbenders: defiant, spooky and sexy, yet somehow more fun than graduation day at clown college

Androgynous Atlantans Starbenders add volume to melodic nous on album number three, Take Back The Night

Starbenders: Take Back The Night artwork
(Image: © Sumerian)

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In 2020, Atlanta band Starbenders released their second album, Love Potions. It didn’t change the world, but it probably deserved to, with a stream of brilliantly written singles giving the collection the feel of a glam/goth/punk Thriller or Hysteria, but without the accompanying sales spike. 

Take Back The Night carries on in much the same vein. Led by the extraordinary Kimi Shelter – a bewitching hybrid of Stevie Nicks and Cruella de Vil – Starbenders sound like a band who’ve studied the great crafters of pop-rock, from Pat Benatar to Blondie and beyond, stirred a bunch of crunching riffs into the mix, and come up with an album that’s defiant, spooky and sexy, yet somehow more fun than graduation day at clown college. 

It all sounds a bit like something else, but in the best, most surprising ways: Sex opens with the kind of thud Rammstein used to conquer the globe before veering off into the territory occupied by Billy Idol's Rebel Yell via the theme to Doctor Who. Body Talk is driven by the kind of riff that would rescue Rudolf Schenker from writer's block, but turns into bubble-gum-glam by the time the chorus hoves into view and features a guitar solo that sounds like it was played through a snorkel. And Blood Moon launches like Too Fast For Love-era Mötley Crüe, but with a singer who can, you know, actually sing.   

The quality meter barely flickers when they toss in a cover of Alice Cooper’s classic Poison, but the highlights are their own, and the euphoric Seven White Horses is a stunning Best In Show. Wonderful stuff. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.