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Album Review: STRFKR - Being No One, Going Nowhere

By Tanner Bidish, Contributor

[Polyvinyl; 2016]

Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “Something Ain’t Right,” “interspace,” “Being No One, Going Nowhere”

On their latest, STRFKR persist the bouncing electronic jams that they’ve come to be known for. Being No One, Going Nowhere asserts a mission statement with its title, claiming anonymity while putting down the weight of self and destination. It feels far reaching and pretentious, but the music to find here is still fun nonetheless. Albeit not exciting or groundbreaking, Being No One, Going Nowhere packs a good time in its eleven tracks.

“Tape Machine” sets the pace with upbeat synths and keen guitar licks. The chorus considers addictive habits, “Was this trouble your nature? Why can’t you shake it?,” setting a tonal beat. “Satellite” follows up with a thumping bass line that grips the listener. Disco influence is hinted at in “Never Ever,” and makes a powerful callback in “Dark Days”.

Throughout the record, vocalist Joshua Hodges’s vaguely distant vocal stylings create dreamlike atmospheres. His higher register and falsetto are intently on display in “When I’m With You.” Also notable is the balanced instrumentation across the album. “Something Ain’t Right” opens with a droning soundscape that drops right into a rolling dance beat. The synth keys never take away from the percussion; they interplay tightly for one of the record’s highlight moments. Likewise, guitar smoothly builds over the keys in “Open Your Eyes” in order to craft a slick bop.

The philosophy of Being No One, Going Nowhere wants to be just as important as the music. An Alan Watts recording over a spacey instrumental is the entirety of “interspace.” The philosopher has always been a big influence on STRFKR, evidenced in references throughout their work. Keeping it introspective, “Maps” creates a steady contemplative vibe. Its simple two-verse structure grasps at concepts like the effort of persona and artificiality. The connections are vague and never quite hitting.

The titular track closes the album. Ambient droning pulls you in, and steady percussive bursts keep you invested. It’s a relaxing track that feels pointed aimless; the sonic embodiment of this record's mission statement.

It’s easy to have fun with STRFKR’s music, and that’s true on Being No One, Going Nowhere; however the concepts falter slightly. The philosophies trying to be reached are abstract and lofty, with nothing ever precisely connecting. The title track comes the closest, which makes its ending placement satisfying, but tracks leading to it don’t hit the same mark. Regardless, this album has tunes to please fans and new comers alike.

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