Whatever weird bug the Flaming Lips have, their fellow Oklahomites appear to have it too. Especially the Starlight Mints. In their third album "Drowaton," the Mints overwhelm listeners with their colourful, forceful pop tunes and oddball lyrics -- they sound like an insane group of musical leprechauns.
It opens with a fuzzy, intermittent riff, joined in by a brass chorus, colourful chorus and some solid drums. It's a bit hard to make out what Allan Vest is singing in his eerie falsetto, but you can catch snatches of lyrics: knives, cold hearts, and "words that burn, burn my soul."
Then it proceeds to the whistling and guitars of "Torts," with Vest announcing solemnly, "All you lawyers and judges/and reading rooms/this song goes out to you/as your counselor wishes, and I can prove/everyone travels in twos!" It sounds like a song from a demented children's TV show.
From there in, they try out every kind of pop imaginable: bombastic piano-rock, energetic indiepop, uneasy bluesy pop with classical violins, ominously heavy "Rhino Stomp" living up to its name, a folky little acoustic tune, wailing psych-punk, and sweeping psychedelic tunes with tipsy vocals. Right up to the parade-like feeling of the sweeping acid epic "Sidewalk."
Part of the charm of the Starlight Mints has always been that they were always so incredibly colourful. But with "Drowaton," they take up the colour a notch -- everything in this album seems bigger, brighter and more effusive than ever before. And that's saying something.
As they've always done, classical violin strains are mingled in with indie riffs and lots of shimmering synth, molded into some truly brilliant pop tunes that seem to overflow from the speakers. And the Mints try out all sorts of music here -- punk, folk, a touch of blues, and lots and lots of shimmering psychpop -- with mostly successful results.
Vest's voice gets a good workout here -- he goes falsetto in the first song, but gets to sound a bit more normal (and freaked out) in "Seventeen Devils" and the rollicking punk "Eyes of the Night." And the songs are almost as bizarrely appealing as the music -- full of lightning strikes, pearls in submarines, the slow development of a murderer. ("A killer comes, a killer grows/he walks into a killer's home/and says goodnight to the moon...")
The Starlight Mints are utterly brilliant in their third full-length album, a collection of larger-than-life psychpop and wild musical journeys. A must-have.