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Stars as Eyes - Enemy of Fun

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Artist: Stars as Eyes

Album: Enemy of Fun

Label: Tigerbeat6

Review date: Nov. 4, 2002

Reaching for the Stars

During the past few years, Oakland/Kid606 label Tigerbeat6 has been second to few when it comes to blurring genre lines. Much of this has come from intra-genre electronic collaborations, but a recent series of 3” CDs has found everything from electro-punk to serious house-hop. On their new album, Enemy of Fun, TB6 veterans Stars as Eyes, whose last album ,Freedom Rock, was more or less dead in the water, have struck up a new and intriguing blend of low-key electro and spaced-out psychedelia. While Enemy of Fun is still somewhat uneven as a whole, when Stars as Eyes create a subtle balance between live and synthesized sounds, the results are quite impressive.

The majority of the man-made sounds on Enemy of Fun are made by guitars of various distortions and tones. Quieter, more guitar-heavy songs often lull themselves into a Tristeza-like derivative drone, which is somewhat disappointing given Stars as Eyes’ potential for frantic instrumental excitement. Stars as Eyes do best when they allow electronic sounds and instruments to create excited and complementary sounds, rather than forcing noticeably contrasting ones. The album’s second song, “Important Youth Movement” (previously released as a 7”) is the best example of this, as distorted power chords backed by maxed-out drums seep into a wash of electronic noise, then slowly give way back to a gentler, slower, melodic fadeout. The seam between the song’s parts is nearly invisible, which contributes greatly to its success.

Less successful songs, like “The French Method”, fall short when Stars as Eyes seem to excuse rather bland instrumental interludes with the inclusion of electronic blings and tones. The effects are rather jarring and serve to refocus attention on the parts, rather than the whole.

While Stars as Eyes seem to be equally adept at electronics as they do at rock, it seems that spacey instrumental rock is their bread and butter. The 10th song “Our Light”, begins like something from The Joshua Tree and gradually builds and dismantles itself. Here, the recorded sound of their drums is fantastic, falling somewhere in between Steve Albini and the Dust Brothers. Instruments and basslines pile on top of each other as a cacophonous keyboard screeches an ascending melody. It’s another example of everything working together properly and seamlessly, and results in another fantastic highlight.

While Enemy of Fun is certainly quite good, it seems to offer promise of greatness for Stars as Eyes. While the inclusion of electronics can often be a cheap cop-out disguised as innovation, in this case it is both novel and effective. Stars as Eyes are onto something good, and perhaps with a bit more restraint and precision they will be able to create something truly remarkable. It should come as no shock that Tigerbeat6 latched onto Stars from its very beginnings, nor should it surprise anyone when this duo from Providence finally attains greatness.

By Sam Hunt

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