Sound — 8
Portland, Oregon's trio Stars Of Track And Field make shoegaze atmospherics with meaning on their full length debut album Centuries Before Love And War released by Wind-Up Records. The album has the blissful vapors of My Bloody Valentine and the mellow tones and gentle glazes of Kate Havnevik. The album follows the trio's EP You Came Here For Sunset Last Year and pre-supposes that a peaceful utopia existed before love created wars. The band who took their name from a Belle & Sebastian song created music that is inviting and pensive through the melancholic and optimistic moods. Band members Kevin Calaba (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Jason Bell (guitar), and Daniel Orvik (drums, programming) used guitar pedals and synth programs to create orbs of ethereal resonance and sonic landscapes, controlling the volume of their chimes and limberness winding through the layouts. The amorphous effects on Movies Of Antarctica are elevating with a kinescoped tubing. Numbers like Centuries, Lullaby For A G.I./Don't Close Your Eyes and U.S. Mile 5 generate melancholic moods along the pensive space-rock soundscapes with light drum pulses counting the time ticking away. Other songs like With You, Real Time and Exit The Recital glimmer with brighter tones and an optimism etched into it's sonic rises and retreats creating a dream-pop aria. The voluminous cascades on Fantastic are soft and fluid with a reposing incline and cushion the listener's ears. Stars Of Track And Field present shoegaze atmospherics that are pensive and reflective of peoples many changing moods. It's an album that values those moments of alone time.
Lyrics — 8
Calaba tells on the band's myspace site that The lyrics deal with maligned memory and love loss, and obviously, with the war going on now it's pretty hard not to have that affect your writing. Like in the song With You when Calaba resounds, Wish you were here/ Sleep well, sleep in sleep best alone/ Don't cry, your eyes are made of stone/ I hardly cared when you left me there/ I almost left/ I was with you when you went down, down, down, to see you again/ I was there, I heard you say 'Hey, hey, hey, wish you were here. Stars Of Track And Field have lyrics that use symbolism to express their meanings, and though, most of the lyrics have a down-casting slant, the music sustains an optimistic vibe.
Overall Impression — 8
Just when people thought that shoegaze and mood music reached it's limitations with bands like Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Doves, and recently Night Kills The Day, Stars Of Track And Field come along and show that there is more left in shoegaze, dream-pop, and space-rock to be explored. So much about their music is reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine and Alican Blue, and yet, so much taps into new avenues that have never been paved before. Centuries Before Love And War is an album worth checking out even if you've never enjoyed shoegaze soundscapes. The band has an emo touch in their sonic planes that transcends the genre which their music depicts. The band is presently on tour with Shiny Toy Guns and playing a few club dates on their own.