Written by: Jen Dan
Sounding like an absurd, and maybe even nonsensical, statement taken from Lewis Carroll’s classic books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, the Star Charts’ album title gives a hint of the woozily sound-bending elements gracing the 10 songs within. Don’t be put off by the strange album cover art; the hurrier we go, the behinder we get is a hazily swooning win of dream-pop, light psychedelic styles, and the gauzier aspects of shoegaze.
In another interesting twist, this new album is actually an older one that is finally seeing the light of day. EJ Hagen (of High Spire and The Morning After Girls) and Martin Sleeman (The Morning After Girls), as the Star Charts, are releasing the material they’ve recorded between 2008 and 2011 in digital form only for now.
Many treasures can be unearthed from this album, from the airy, bright, and warped (in a My Bloody Valentine-ish way) opener “belshnickel”, the blend of sunny Beach Boys-like harmonies, strummed guitars, and curving guitar lines of “stealin’ the sunshine”, and the hushed vocals and droning notes of the acoustic guitar-driven “fallen over”. Hagen and Sleeman go delightfully tribal on “outen the light”, a track that deviates from the dream-pop path with its sweet, repeated keyboard notes, metal clinks, and lively hand drum rhythms. It’s both relaxing and exciting at the same time with Hagen and Sleeman’s vocals also floating through the contrasting fast and slow dynamics.
“diving bell” is pure, plush dream-pop, from the steady, but emphatic drum beat, tipsy, sustained keyboard lines, burnished guitar reverberation, and tranquil, misty vocals. The titular track ends the album and is just under 13 minutes long, a slowly building opus that starts with a subdued smolder and then increases in intensity with various keyboard notes, a running bass line, propulsive drum beat, and the ever-gentle vocal delivery. The overall vibe is one of moving forward into the great expanse of sky…of space… of what lies outside, and maybe even inside, the mind. The guys throw in the kitchen sink towards the end of the song and brusque noisiness takes over, which is a bit unfortunate, but otherwise the aural ride is quite enjoyable.