(Side One Dummy)
Record Review by Daniel Brody
The Starlight Mints recall a time when whacked out psychedelic lyrics and song structures conveyed a certain sense of the world. Bands like Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd used to drown themselves in acid until the world seemed off-kilter, then tried to describe the echoes and visions with bizarre imagery and songs that seemed to change melody and tempo from one verse to the next. In our age of canned beats and much more moderate drug use, such free-form weirdness probably wouldn’t fly. But Starlight Mints streamline the sound without losing too much of the wackiness, and come up with a great pop record in Drowaton.
The charm starts with singer Allan Vest’s deadpan voice, which coos lyrics like “So I shouted through my megaphone/There’s a lobster on the telephone,” and makes them sound as cool as a fifties greaser singing about his hot rod. There are strange anthropomorphic animals all over this album, coming to life and filling the Starlight Mints songs with whimsy and wonder. The songs back up the silliness by never staying the same for more then a minute or so; bridges appear before verses should end, and choruses might arrive at any moment. A kid with ADD would love this album, since it might feel like 100 thirty-second songs, and yet the affair never feels slapped together. With all the strange analog keyboards, horror movie string sections, bouncy piano syncopation, and carnival horns, the album never stops surprising, and never gets boring.
The song that proves this band is more than a couple of weirdo burnouts is “Rhino Stomp,” an instrumental that doesn’t even need words to sound like a deranged cartoon. Thumping cellos and chirping violins pile on top of new wave keyboards to create a nerve-wracking safari. It’s an uneasy interaction with nature; a bad trip if you will. It’s a totally zonked out centerpiece to what certainly will be one of the most fun albums of the year.
More by this writer:
The Situation - The Situation
Field Music - Field Music
Pinetop Seven - Beneath Confederate Lake
Roy - Roy Killed John Train