STRFKR Needs to Go the Extra Mile
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 21:02
As of late, electronic indie pop has become the genre du jour. It seems like every day another new artist is entering the fray or one of the established greats is releasing a new album. One of the bands that falls into the latter category is STRFKR. However, its third full-length album, Miracle Mile, falls short of the lofty expectations of their devoted fans, simply incorporating the band’s tired and usual tropes into a new package.
One of the main things this album does have working in its favor is just how good it sounds. The production is immaculate, and what it lacks in originality it tries to make up for in pure sound quality. Joshua Hodges’ vocals follow the pattern they have for all of his other releases, as do his lyrics, which try hard to make an impact but usually end up fading into white noise while the synth-beats break out to the front.
However, the major drawback of Miracle Mile is that STRFKR isn’t really doing anything inherently different from what it has done in the past. The band is still churning out the same manufactured synth-pop, but it’s gotten better at picking what songs are worth its time. This album, which clocks in at just over an hour for 15 tracks, could have used a bit more editing. For example, "Isea" is only 52 seconds long and doesn’t serve any obvious purpose other than filling blank space that doesn’t really need to be filled.
However this album has a high enjoyment value. It’s consistently inoffensive — which isn’t necessarily a great thing — and there are no real lulls or weak tracks — it’s the kind of album that can be played all the way through. Out of all of STRFKR’s full-length ventures, this is the first one that is, as a whole, pretty strong. The pop hooks and familiar dance melodies are versatile in their subdued nature, and it’s the kind of album that can just as easily be played at a party in a dorm as in the background while cramming for midterms: But that’s it — it’s background music.
The first single and track on the album, "While I’m Alive," happens to be one of the best songs on the record. It’s a really catchy number thanks to its infectious riffs. Another standout track is "Malmo," which incorporates whistling, a trend that has slowly been on the rise in the indie-pop scene. "Khalil Gibran," named after the influential Lebanese writer, tries extremely hard to be clever — and does come off as intelligent — but falls just a bit flat in the lyrics department. Another track that may sound familiar is "I Don’t Want to See," which seems to borrow the beats and rhythms from many of STRFKR’s contemporaries. This is disappointing, as the track otherwise has a lot of obvious potential.
Miracle Mile isn’t a sing-along type of album, and it won’t be on anyone’s best albums of 2013 list, but it’s still pretty good. There’s nothing outstandingly terrible about it, and it’s well-crafted. It is obvious that Hodges takes great pride in his work, and although he does have a tendency to try a bit too hard, it’s still a consistent effort that becomes more enjoyable with each listen. Hopefully, the next time STRFKR releases an album, it will be comfortable enough in its own skin to branch out a bit and try some new things.