Article by KevW
As the album artwork may suggest, Detroit's VSTRS indulge in the odd spot of space-rock, a fact that's reinforced by excellent opening track 'Chambermaid' which is like shoegaze with an injection of steroids. It perhaps comes as no surprise considering that the band include members of FUR, a group who were'n't averse to that kind of thing themselves (they even had a released a song called 'Another Satellite'). This album, however, goes even more interstellar, and you realise this by second track 'Modern Times' which is a hectic collage of jagged riffs, warm, meandering bass, soft, distant vocals and electronics that sound not unlike something that fellow sonic cosmonauts Yeti Lane might have included on their last LP. Samples of what sounds like astronauts talking to each other only serve to enhance this effect.
"An artist's post-acid insights might genuinely be hard to express, all the normal points of reference will have suddenly become obsolete". This sample from what it possibly a scientific report is quite fitting as the intro to the expansive and excellently-crafted 'Junkie Gone To Heaven', the second longest track on an album which rarely keeps anything under five minutes. Analogue-sounding synths combine with gritty guitars and a plethora of ideas on what is another ambitious and interesting listen, and one which unveils more each time you hear it it. These aren't cheap pop thrills, VSTRS are looking further ahead than that, and the important thing is they still manage to come away with a set of songs that look impressive on paper, but sound great with it.
Quite often with albums of this nature, especially on first play, it's the shorter numbers that catch the attention, but there's only one stereotypically "single" length song here, and that's the aforementioned 'Modern Times'. Yet at almost eight minutes and containing heavy prog leanings, centrepiece 'Traveling' takes you on a journey through twinkling keys, classic rock guitar solos and more of that smooth bass that acts as a foundation for much of the album. The effect this has on the spacious and dreamy 'Marigold' which follows it is another asset. It's somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd before they went pear-shaped (around 1973 in my personal opinion...). As you drift through the brief snippet 'IDivest' and on to the majestic 'Subatomic' that same word keeps coming to mind: ambition. This isn't stretched out and indulgent post-rock, and nor is it three-minute pop songs. VSTRS have set out to make a record that pushes their ideas and limits, doesn't follow convention too closely, yet still engages the listener. By the time they bow out with the glorious 'Sundial Sleep', you know they've succeeded.
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