by Devon McReynolds
Seattle-based band Popstar Assassins have already garnered much critical acclaim with the release of their sophomore album Moderne, and have been added to over 200 college radio stations across the country. The band has even made the College Music Journal's Top 30 chart at 20 of these stations. Pretty impressive for a band that records and releases their albums through their own label, TriangleBulletLines Rec Co.
On Moderne, Popstar Assassins indeed live up to the previous rave reviews and wildly complimentary comparisons (the Shins, the Smiths, Husker Du). The opening track, “Headache(s)” starts off with grating guitar, but is then countered by singer Tim Thomas' smooth, but pleading voice, similar to that of fellow “college rock”-er R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. In “Close My Eyes,” Thomas takes on the voice of Morrissey—sad, beautiful, with maybe just a sliver of hope. Popstar Assassins show another element of their music with “Yr Legend Grows,” slowing it down to a Rogue Wave pace, and adding additional chime/xylophone sounds that beautifully complement the gentle drumming and strumming. “For Robert Wyatt” is a fitting tribute to one of Popstar Assassins cited favorites, with ambient aaah-ing a la Sigur Ros and synth in the background of a gentle pseudo-ballad.
Popstar Assassins have rejuvenated the sound of “90s college rock,” mixing in elements such as synth and chimes to what could have been a typical guitar/bass/drums combo. Those who live in Seattle can pick up a copy of Moderne at Tower Records, Sonic Boom Records, and Cellophane Square. For anyone living outside of the area, check out Popstar Assassins at http://www.myspace.com/popstarassassins or purchase the album through InSound.com.