It’s easy to be surprised and delighted by music that breaks new ground and pushes boundaries, or at least tries to; at the very least, a novelty factor surrounds such music. A harder sell is music that doesn’t set out to push boundaries or blow minds but rather, sees fit to continue to mine the veins of the tried and true, and search for precious, if familiar materials therein.
Such music has to rely on trickier-to-achieve qualities such as sincerity, emotional connection, and solid craftsmanship to leave its mark — but that’s precisely what Poland’s Starsabout have done with Longing for Home, their remarkably solid debut full-length.
As hinted by the album’s title, a sense of yearning — to belong, to find purpose and meaning — permeates the lyrics. The title track finds Piotr Trypus lamenting “Maybe someday I will find/A place for me, one truly mine” while “Hourglass” is a gentle, acoustic guitar-driven ode to carpe diem: “Time won’t play with you/It has all the cards/Time won’t play with you/You will be gone.” Meanwhile, “I Will Never” gets downright existential: “Time took away another season/With every step, I’m falling into the void… But I will never embrace the night/I won’t surrender, broken inside.”
But to the quartet’s credit, they take a refreshingly mature, even subdued approach to all of this angst with their music. For all of the lyrics’ sturm und drang, Starsabout can never be accused of wallowing; their music is too refined, elegant, and confident for that.
Like The Mary Onettes, with whom they share some musical similarities, it’s pretty easy to map Starsabout’s musical DNA. Indeed, their Bandcamp tags include “Jeff Buckley,” “The Blue Nile,” and “Cocteau Twins.” The band does occasionally let loose in a climactic, post-rock manner, so brace yourself during “Hourglass“‘s bridge and the final moments of “Stay.” But Starsabout is usually content to sit back and draw you in with shimmering guitars and glassy melodies (“Blue Caress,” the title track), drifts of Verve-y textures (“Thief,” “Million Light Years”), and of course, Trypus’ stirring, lilting vocals — which all combine to sublime effect.
Put simply, Longing for Home is must-hear music for fans of any of the aforementioned artists, or fans of thoughtful, atmospheric indie-rock in general. It’s an album that’s thoroughly enjoyable in the here and now even as it leaves you excited for how the group might mature in the coming years. Considering how self-assured and mature they sound with just an album and an EP under their belts, I think we’ll be hearing good things from Starsabout for a long time to come.