Miami by Starflyer 59 (Review)
I suppose we have Jason Martin’s tireless work ethic, which has typified his discography since 1994, to blame. Last year’s Young In My Head may have been billed as Starflyer 59’s final album, a sentiment borne out in songs like the title track and “Remind Me,” but Martin’s clearly not finished with music yet. And so here we are with Miami, a new five-song EP released on Velvet Blue Music (and an indication of still more music to come).
Miami is described as a nod to both Starflyer 59’s early shoegaze roots and Martin’s youth spent listening to bands like The Church and New Order. It should come as no surprise by now that every Starflyer 59 release contains obvious odes to Martin’s musical influences. But part of the Starflyer 59 magic is that they’re rendered with an honesty and directness that makes them more than just mere nostalgic indulgences. Rather, it’s more like Martin simply reckons that if those particular riffs and hooks worked for Kevin Shields, Bernard Sumner, and Johnny Marr back in the day, then they’ll sure as heck work for him, too.
Still, there are aspects of Miami that are unmistakably Jason Martin, e.g., the effortless surf tones draped all over the background in “This Recliner” or the vintage riffs that ping-pong around inside “Once More.” And this longtime fan definitely enjoyed the dreamy outro, replete with silvery-smooth slide guitar and handclaps, that closes out “Bored” (and evokes classic Starflyer 59 circa Americana).
Never one to wax needlessly poetic in his lyrics, Martin’s straightforwardness manages a poignancy in its own right. Miami addresses the typical Martin topics (e.g., aging), but “This Recliner” goes one step further. Inspired by a lengthy hospital stay, Martin sings “I feel a hanging cloud over my head and I’m sore/And my insides hurt like never before” before concluding with a humble, relatable request: “I just wanna go where I’m not tired.” The palpable weariness in Martin’s voice only adds to the song’s emotional oomph.
In addition to being Starflyer 59’s frontman, Jason Martin has long worked in the trucking industry, so I’ll do my best to avoid any “trucking along” jokes. But the fact remains: for over 25 years, Starflyer 59 has been one of the most consistent indie/alternative acts out there, and Miami does nothing to upset that dependable track record.