The artwork for ‘Star’ features some of London’s infamous and divisive skyline: The Gherkin, Shard and Cheesegrater, all coated in a photoshop fog. Discerning these monolithic mergers of business and tourism, from bedroom computer chicanery, one begins to wonder: which is more ridiculous? Someone sat at home delicately moving clouds with their mouse to create the illusion of an air pilot’s view? Or a building, shaped like a burger topping?
As the fog uproots architecture, ‘Stars’ problematises axiomatic advice. It feels like our narrator is less than enthusiastic about the feedback he’s given: “try and forget the girl, go out and make some friends.” Flitting between spoken word and a broken staccato chant, penned in between industrial noise, some emerging, some more urgent, it is easy to imagine a floppy haired city dandy, troubled by the cycles of a safe but emotionally tempestuous life.
All around him rhythm and melody flex as one bicep, palpitating drum snaps and synthesiser attacks, reminiscent of a certain Duran Duran Bond theme. But Duran Duran and Bond fans beware! It is the utensils you recognise, not the formula. This is a protracted pre-liftoff anxiety showdown. Simplistic tuneful hooks – more a flourishing style of playing, than a pop blueprint for harmonious foundations – turn up as peripheral melodies, signs of danger spotted from the plane window.
Lyrically and sonically Famous remind me of indie disco champions Los Campesinos! Channeling their most poetic vulnerabilities into crescendos, choruses and snowballing outros. The cadences and affected vibrato of voice – similar to Issac Wood of Black Country, New Road – are not always convincing and fail to endow the lyrics with any timeless magnitude. Sonically and rhythmically however, Famous pound an interesting pavement. The band have described themselves as feeling “liberated” and this is audible in their broad curatorial adoption of retro synthesisers and experimental rhythms. If, for their next trick, they can unshackle themselves from the allure of euphoric, crowd controlling, indie disco and get a little more lost in that fog, then Famous might be a band worthy of devotion.
‘Stars’ is out now on the usual streaming platforms. Their EP, The Valley, is due for release on 28th May via untitled (recs).
Review by Patrick Malone