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The Ken Burns Effect

Stars Like Fleas

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Album Review

The Ken Burns Effect aims to detonate atomically at a few exact moments during its swift running time, and these points of coruscating largesse are apparent on first listen. There is the melancholic "I Was Only Dancing," which mutates a plaintive country lament into a Sigur Rós bliss-out; the concise, winsome, and musically ribald "Berbers in Tennis Shoes"; and the 14-minute finale, "Some Nettles," which twinkles and fizzes and booms like blooming fireworks. The valleys between these peaks are lovely enough, but remain nevertheless overshadowed. Stars Like Fleas share scenes and sonic handprints with other revered sculptors of noise like Animal Collective, Akron/Family, and Stars of the Lid, and at times one may be tempted to deem them a featherweight version of these artists. But, really, they're just interested in something else; the slight moments and stumbles here come to feel, eventually, as intentional as the more awesome displays of musicality elsewhere.


Formed: 1999 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Brooklyn collective Stars Like Fleas blend post-rock experimentation, chamber music influences, traditional American folk forms, and indie pop into a sprawling, appealingly untidy mass that at various times recalls not only contemporaries like Broken Social Scene, Akron/Family, and Sigur Rós, but also earlier experimentalists like Rachel's, Talk Talk, solo Robert Wyatt, and the Incredible String Band. Though the core of the group is the duo of singer and lyricist Montgomery Knott and multi-instrumentalist...
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