STRFKR, "Being No One, Going Nowhere" (Polyvinyl/ADA)
Frontman Josh Hodges takes command on STRFKR's 4th album, shaping the dance grooves into a relaxed, joyous flow.
Written during a stint in the California desert outpost of Joshua Tree, Hodges' "small and slow" feelings of solitude imbue his songwriting with a coat of easygoing exuberance.
The sounds across "Being No One, Going Nowhere" stay within the realm of recognizable electro pop, their graceful trot belying some of the heaviness of the lyrics.
Opener "Tape Machine" claps its way to ghostly acoustic guitar and shuddering lines like "I know your darkness better than you think." The desert climate arrives with "Satellite": Its trebly bass line, crystal guitar riffs and shy melody are seemingly inviting, but don't get too close because "there's nothing at all."
Inspirations include Hermann Hesse and British philosopher Alan Watts, whose appearance on the otherwise instrumental "Interspace" gives the cosmic arpeggio a conceptual frame about everyone being "a function of this total galaxy."
"Never Ever" is described as a "reality-refracting fantasy" that's sustained with a pulsing synth and ends by repeating the futile mantra "What would I lie for?" The teenage confusion of "Open Your Eyes" is depicted accurately but with empathy.
STRFKR, also including drummer Keil Corcoran and bass player Shawn Glassford, may have dropped some vowels to make them more suitable for general consumption, but it will be sharp, gratifying albums like "Being No One, Going Nowhere" that should gain them a wider audience and enhance their reputation.