It’s been a while since rock music has sounded the way Stars In Stereo plays it.  The group approaches its songs with a firm grasp on gritty rock instincts as well as a innate understanding of clean pop sensibilities.  The main attribute of Stars In Stereo, the band’s recently released self-titled album, is that its particular style is difficult to pin down.  It’s not totally heavy and not totally soft, but more a combination of the two than some strange middle-ground.

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Much of that sound can be attributed to the powerful yet in-tune voice of lead singer Bec Emily Hollcraft (known for her solo work simply as BECCA), which is underpinned by heavier backing tracks.

When Bec sings “Does it hurt? Does it feel like violence?” on “Violence,” the album’s second track, the most accurate, literal answer would be “no.”  Her voice does not feel like violence, and it certainly doesn’t hurt the listener’s ears.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite— a catchy style fitting for Top 40 pop radio stations.  Yet the song is infused with a hardness that gives the pop sweetness an underlying edge.  The song’s closing metal breakdown, complete with rapid-fire double kick drums, does feel a little bit more like violence (but in a good way).

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The soaring female vocals may remind some listeners of Paramore, but the band is more closely aligned with bands like The Used and Muse.  Stars In Stereo recall The Used on their most emo, pop-punk sounding songs, such as “Dealing Secrets,” a track with yet another metal breakdown worthy of repeated listens.

They delve into more Muse-y, synth-y territory on songs such as “All Together” and “Lie Down,” which both begin with synth lines and utilize electronic drums to some capacity, evoking contemporary bands like Awolnation and Imagine Dragons.

The span of bands to which I compared Stars In Stereo alone should give you an idea of their musical breadth.  In recent years, aggression has been traded for coolness or vice versa, and some element of true rock ‘n roll has been lost.  Stars In Stereo have arrived with heavy music, catchy melodies and arena-ready hooks to remedy that phenomenon.  Stars In Stereo releases any built up tension or anger you might have, but it also kinda makes you want to dance, too.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

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