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stellastarr*
Harmonies for the Haunted
by Ashley Graham

There is plenty to hate about this band; the lowercase spelling, the extra 'r,' the asterisk. But if you manage to get over initial disdain by simply popping in one of their discs, your every non-grammar-obsessed inclination will steer you in another direction. The strong full-length debut always managed to do just this, and now their sophomore effort,
Harmonies for the Haunted, follows suit.

From the piano that brings you in, to the guitar that picks up, to the vocals that eventually take control, stellastarr* manages an incredible power over any room. I knew this was good when I played it at a volume filling the house and spilling outside, on repeat, five times. Ever since it's been a favorite; never far from the stereo, always within grabbing distance of the discman.

Claiming a second effort better than its predecessor is often a ballsy move, but hold on to your computer mouse, that's just what's going down here. stellastarr* may have been uncertain of their place within the '80s revival a couple years ago, but now that the era rules the airwaves and video playlists, stellastarr* has managed to change ever-so-slightly to make themselves better than they were before, and better than the competition. Let this disc fill the room and feel its underlying power.