Stellarscope
Fingerpaint the Colour of Sound (CD)

Every once in awhile a band comes along that is not content with merely taking what they can get from their music scene, but who put all their efforts into creating something exciting and inviting everyone along for the ride. Stellarscope have been instrumental in creating a positive buzz for the pop scene back in the Philadelphia/East Coast area, with founder/vocalist/guitarist Tommy Lugo organising the well-received Alison Records tour in ’03, and constantly setting up shows for touring indie bands of various popularity. Always prolific (Tommy also has a solo project called Panophonic and reckons he recorded roughly 8-10 albums worth of material last year alone), “Fingerpaint the Colour of Sound” is their first proper album on a label and is an excellent insight to an exciting band really hitting a their creative stride.

Opening with the beautiful “All for”, you are immediately whisked away to a place where sleepy Saturday mornings come with soundtracks by the Durutti Column and are struck by two things: melody and vocals. Whether it’s to hide a multitude of sins, shite lyrics, or painfully thin voices (or all of the above), the heavily reverbed, Slowdive approach to vocals more often than not kills whatever passion drove them in the first place. The vocals here are prominently mixed and easy on the effects, giving the lyrics and their delivery the room and definition they are deserving of. The true strength of Stellarscope, however, is in their melodic dynamics – a sure sign of a good live band. “Of lost grace” and “Something delicious” are a lethal 1-2 punch in the middle of the album, with the latter having the effect of sticking your head out of the car window at about 90 miles an hour whilst drunk on the freedom of youth. “What u r…” is a beautiful, spaced out trip-hop song somewhere between Global Communication and “A Storm in Heaven”-era Verve, and adds a nice balance to the powerful newgaze anthems before it. The album’s closing songs, “Let me feel…” and “Eterna Nada”, are epic slabs of bliss, starting slowly and building up to tense and climactic endings.

It is obvious a lot of effort went into making this such an interesting record to listen to. The tracklist is well paced and the album is recorded & mixed well, none of which matters without good songs which, fortunately, Stellarscope seem to have in spades. While this album is highly enjoyable and highly recommended, I can’t help but think that the best of Stellarscope is yet to come.

– review by RP (1.28.04)        
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