Let’s be honest, there is an unquestionable void in the modern music scene. Where does that lay? Well, it depends on who you ask, but anyone who is paying attention would universally agree within Rock-n-Roll. Yes, there are Rock bands out there, but the genre has become so fragmented that what is considered Rock-n-Roll in 2023 is so far from what the roots truly are. Again, a matter of tastes and opinions, how many listeners are looking for a band that possesses the mystique of a ‘70s Glam Rock act meshed with ‘80s Anthem Rock, all while still having a modern flair that is fresh? Then you need to look no further than Starbenders.
A band out of Georgia, Starbenders have steadily been becoming more well known over the last decade; first releasing Heavy Petting in 2016, and then following it up with Love Potions in 2020. A work in progress for some time, the band has seemingly found their stride with a lineup led by Kimi Shelter (vocals, guitars), and solidified by Aaron Lecesne (bass), Emily Moon (drums), as well as Kriss Tokaji (guitars). Together they unit a glamorous Rock image akin to David Bowie or T. Rex, with a well-crafted sound that shows they are more than window dressing.
Now, the cynic could say that the image portrayed by Starbenders is nostalgic for the sake of vanity, and without even looking much deeper, assume they are a derivative of the past. Shortsighted and unfortunate for this type of individual, the truth is Starbenders merely capture the essence of past Rock-n-Roll glory as an influence that helps them morph their own sound. This is especially evident with their brand-new studio album Take Back the Night.
Out through Sumerian Records September 22, 2023, their third overall studio album is full of unexpected twists and turns. Rooted in Rock, the production of Take Back the Night, courtesy of Nico Constantine, is nothing less than engaging. An aspect that often makes or breaks modern studio albums, Starbenders is captured in a bright, larger than life style, all without being excessively loud, similar to some of the best Rock albums that came from the ‘70s and ’80s era. An aspect that makes the album that much more enjoyable to listen to, the aforementioned dips and dives only add to what Take Back the Night offers. What does this mean? It means you get a record that is not one tone, much like a flat lined corpse from start to beginning. Instead you get a myriad of differences that keep you enticed and wanting more.
This is evident with more straight forward rockers like “The Game,” the Electric Rock seduction of “Sex,” Stadium Rock tune “Body Talk,” dreamy atmosphere of “We’re Not OK,” but also the Heavy Metal leaning “Blood Moon.” Not to be overlooked, there are plenty of other peaks as well, including the Alternative Rock vibes of “Seven White Horses” and “If You Need It,” as well as New Wave oozing “Midnight,” a perfect cover of Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” and the completely unique closer “Say You Will.”
A lot to take in, at thirteen tracks the album may appear lengthy, but it never grows long in the tooth. Which leads us to the big question – what is the best way to describe Starbenders and Take Back the Night? Well, that is no simple way to answer that. However, think of a band that will appeal to those who love Rock-n-Roll, enjoy atmospheric Alternative Rock, and still like some heaviness amidst it all. In fact, it would not be outlandish to say Starbenders and this record would appeal to anyone from David Bowie and Led Zeppelin to Garage, Missing Persons, and Metric fans. Absolutely worth taking the time to discover, Starbenders are entering another galaxy with Take Back The Night, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.