Stars of Track and Field ‚”You Came Here for Sunset Last Year,” self-released, 2005: Bands who reinvent themselves tend to have a pretty high failure rate after the fact. It’s hard to think about post-Ozzy Black Sabbath or the Sammy Hagar incarnation of Van Halen without shuddering. However, any initial skepticism about Stars of Track and Field’s transformation from rock four-piece to digital pop is three-piece will be long gone by the time the listener gets a few songs into their magnificent new EP, ‚”You Came Here for Sunset Last Year.” Reminiscent of the Postal Service at their finest, the record seethes with longing and sadness, with melancholy electronic beats backing Kevin Calaba’s soaring vocals.
The EP starts off with the track ‚”With You,” an ode to a lost love with beautiful, descriptive lyrics. The refrain ‚”wish you were here” reminds the listener of the Pink Floyd track of the same name, and the singer’s sadness is overwhelming; the sense of loss he conveys is palpable. The next track, ‚”Say Hello,” sounds closer to the band’s previous material, with driving distorted guitars. It’s also the most ‚”commercial” track on the album; it wouldn’t be hard to imagine it in heavy rotation on a commercial station or playing during the next crucial make out scene on a CW hit. ‚”Arithmatik” starts off with a shuffling beat and soft, subdued vocals: after the first verse, the chorus explodes with terrific guitars and pleading lyrics. Listening to the song creates a mental picture of a rejected lover revisiting an old summer haunt, wondering why his partner chose to leave such a treasured place. ‚”Let Ken Green” has a similar sound, while the last track, ‚”Foreign Snow,” closes the record with a sweeping finale.
The entire album is enhanced by the slick engineering of Dandy Warhol’s producer Tony Lash and Stephan Malkmus knob-twister Jeff Saltzman . It’s a refreshing and welcome departure from their old sound, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you see their video on VH1 in the near future.
Wed 5/23 8:00 PM Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts, Stars of Track and Field
Bowery Ballroom 18+ $18a/$20d