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Album Review

Jason Martin and his band Starflyer 59 have been though many styles and sounds over a 20-plus-year span. The 13 albums they've released have covered noisy shoegaze, ambitious space rock, swirling dream pop, earnest singer/songwriter, and sleek new wave revival territory, always tethered to the core of Martin's sure-handed guitar playing, his understated vocals, and the impeccable production and arrangement skills he's honed over time. Like most of the recent Starflyer 59 albums, 2016's Slow is a warm blend of all the styles Martin has latched onto over the years, mixed together and boiled down to something instantly familiar and reassuring. It's mostly built around easygoing introspective songs that see Martin exploring his station in life (happily married with kids and a minivan, pondering his place in the music world) in a kind of bemused, almost weary fashion. A few songs branch off from the mainstream, like the ominous gunslinging rocker "Cherokee" and the late-period Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired "Hi Low," and aim for something a little more dangerous-sounding, but these efforts pale in comparison to the gentle, slightly square-sounding tracks like "Slow" and "Retired," or the slowly unspooling final song, "Numb." Martin sounds much more at ease on those songs; when he tries to sound tough or hard, it comes off as forced, like he's a little desperate, a dad rocking out to show he still has it but only succeeding in being dorky and awkward. Better to stick to the songs that work best and stop trying to be something you aren't anymore. Martin makes a convincing chronicler of musical middle age on Slow; he really doesn't need to be anything else. Since the album is so short, and since he does try to be something else, it makes for one of the least satisfying of Starflyer 59's many albums.

Customer Reviews

The slump of mediocrity continues...

SF59 haven't had a consistently enjoyable album in 10 years. I think SF59 reached its nadir with this release. It's a dull slog, even considering that it's 8 songs at a little over a half hour. Such a pity. When SF59 is great, they're great, when they are not, meh. What we get is more of the same. Jason is capable of so much better.

I have never been disappointed by SF59

I am going through my first listen with this one. It has echoes of the past few Starflyer records but somehow very current and aurally interesting. The production, as always with Starflyer records (with the exception of the first few grungy ones which are all perfect btw), is crisp and clear. No one sounds like this band. Jason Martin is underrated as a songwriter - he's one of my favorites. There are hints of the New Order influence here, but it's a distinctly Starflyer mood going on.

BUY IT.

The old school fans will love this one.

Starflyer 59 is the most consistently solid band out there. Every album is great, I have my personal favorites. I’ve been a fan since the day “silver” came out. Some of the awesome surf and shoegaze tones from the silver and gold days are heard throughout this album! Instantly one of my favorites, but no better than any other, they’re all good.

Biography

Formed: 1993 in Riverside, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Jason Martin is the sole songwriter behind Starflyer 59, a project that combines his love for British shoegaze, Beatlesque pop, dreamy space rock, and the songcraft of assorted indie bands. A native of Southern California, Martin was raised in a Christian household without the influence of secular music. He later discovered the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead at the age of 12, and although Christianity continued to play an integral role in his life, Martin's faith didn't prohibit him from delving into...
Full Bio
Slow, Starflyer 59
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