Stars Burn Stripes

Buy Now, Pay Later EP

Written by: PP on 29/03/2010 22:29:23

It's a punk rock Monday, the day where all four Danish punk rock hopefuls recently having released new material will be allocated a slot on my review list. The review delay hasn't been caused by me being lazy or too consumed with university related stuff; it's just that each record has surprised me so positively that I didn't want to review them too quickly because it would mean a significant reduction of listening time dedicated solely to them. Selfish, I know, but that's what happens with good releases. So lets start with Stars Burn Stripes, the local Copenhagen punk outfit that tours relentlessly, and see how they've fared on their sophomore EP "Buy Now, Pay Later".

A curious cross of Anti-Flag and NOFX is still adamant in their sound, mostly brought by the melodic croon of vocalist Lasse, but SBS have developed a clear identity over the years, which is now manifesting on this EP. The production has improved tenfold so it's now possible to identify individual instruments in the mix, the melodies are much, much stronger, and the guitars are more technical, though things are still mostly kept at d-beat hardcore punk (the basement kind) for the vast majority of the time. But if the band previously lacked the finesse of including melodic injections for their songs to stick to your mind, plus a whole lot of variety as well, they now triumph in both departments. The title track, for instance, is a relaxed ska-punk sing along, "Sever The Tie" contains some great trumpets contrasting an otherwise breakneck speed melodic hardcore song (they are a brilliant addition, more of this please!), so the band has clearly evolved from the pedal-to-the-floor semi-monotone hardcore of their first record. But most importantly, their songwriting ability has taken a huge leap forward. Whether it's a 30 second track with a chilled out rhythm and awesome bass line ("Consequence Of Having Fun"), or the aggressively abrasive "I Lost The Point" that you'll choose as your favorite, both tracks demonstrate a band that has learned to write solid, catchy melodic hardcore songs that vary in structure and sound. The latter in particular leaves the listener feeling like a hardcore punk freight train just ran over them, but it manages to be pretty catchy nonetheless.

But where the band really wins you over is on "Rot Away" and "Straight To My Head". The first one is easily the best Stars Burn Stripes song to date, starting from the smart opening lyrics "keep watching traffic lights change from green to red, don't know where I should be, I just know I'm not there yet" to the absolutely mammoth chorus line "I've heard some say the point of life is just to fall in love, fall in love, fall in looove" which infects your mind with similar characteristics to the plague; it's just impossible to resist singing along after a couple of listens. It's nothing short of brilliant, and easily the most memorable track these guys have ever written, and the first time where I've felt like Stars Burn Stripes could potentially be exported out of Denmark to international audiences. "Straight To My Head" then basically picks up where "Rot Away" left off, providing yet another strong chorus with melody aplenty, except here the guitars are the highlight, thrashing through A Wilhelm Scream-esque parts in the beginning. Everything about this song screams sing along, mosh, circle pit, and punk fucking rock.

So the songwriting and guitars are the two parts that have most improved, but Filip's backup vocals must also be mentioned. His screams are now thick and impressive, and in many places carry the songs from being good to excellent because they contrast Lasse's somewhat nasal and authentic punk rock yell nicely. A song like "Sever The Tie", which features lengthy sections with Filip on the vocals, shows how much he has improved in the vocal department, so it could be interesting to see him more actively included in future SBS songs, as it is this variety, this dynamic between the two, that makes many of their songs so interesting. For now, "Buy Now, Pay Later" is a significant leap forward in the evolution of Stars Burn Stripes; if they can keep it up, then by their debut full length, I have no problem seeing them expand outside the borders of our small country, and reaching the highest end of our grading spectrum with ease.

Download: Rot Away, Straight To My Head
For the fans of: Anti-Flag, NOFX, Protagonist
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.02.2010
5FeetUnder Records

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