“Have you recently had a close encounter… A close encounter with something very unusual?”, David Laughlin asks Roy Neary in Steven Spielberg’s classic, Close Encounters of a Third Kind. The film questioned whether we were alone in the universe and whether we could believe in “anomalies”. In a similar fashion, Spielbergs are asking us if we still believe in the power of music, especially raucous garage rock and dreamy pop-rock. Whether we are willing to welcome a new band into our lives to help us momentarily lose our shit and once again feel alive instead of having our minds numbed by repetitive top-40 pop. If you’re answer is an emphatic yes, then their debut EP, Distant Star, is the solution.
Within the record’s five songs reminiscent of the mid- to late 2000s, Mads Baklien (guitar/vocals/synth), Stian Brennskag (bass), and Christian Løvhaug (drums) have delivered one of the year’s great rock albums, and they kick it off with a massive bang. Explosive opener, “We Are All Going To Die”, could be the companion piece to Japandroids’ “The House That Heaven Built”. Similar to the Canadian duo’s track, the song is an in-your-face, exhilarating rocker. The flaming guitar and the propulsive rhythms are the stuff of legends, and the lyrics encourage us to live every day like it’s our last one on Earth. The track, in other words, is the anthemic goodbye to yesterday and the welcoming of a new day.
“Daisy! It’s the New Me”, which was the trio’s first single, is another seismic banger. Brennskag’s throbbing bass line leads the way for Baklien’s message of renewal and rejuvenation. Of redemption and second chances. As he hollers, “I want you back with me”, you’ll just might get out of your seat and run after the one who got away.
A similar energizing spirit and message reverberate on the colossal “Distant Star”. The best way to describe the song is that it could be taken right from Superchunk’s deep canons. This is ’90s punk-infused, angst-rock at its finest. For 193 seconds, the trio unfurl one flaming riff, one hammering bass line, and one pummeling drum roll after another. And it is awesome. The track is the one to truly lose your shit and ride the exhilaration. However, do all of this with your best mate or your partner because then the two of you can shout out with the band, “Then we can be perfect. You could make me better. We could be soulmates and find a place to live!”
Spielbergs aren’t all fire and brimstone. They go slightly shoegaze-y and melodic rock in a Ride-meets-Television way on “Ghost Boy”. The number is surprisingly lush and borders on spellbinding, displaying that the threesome can dazzle and enchant. Baklien’s lyrics, too, are memorable, as he pays tribute to those we have lost and those to whom we never got to say one final goodbye.
The closer, “Setting Sun”, is similarly dazzling. More ’80s dream-synth-pop that could be made for a coming-of-age movie, Spielbergs exhibit another side – their domestic and real-life halves. The optimistic message could be one for Baklien’s two young children, Brennskag’s kindergarten students, or Løvhaug’s girlfriend. However, it is a message for all of us, specifically to believe we can reach anything, including holding on to one last setting sun And to believe again that for a few minutes we can lose ourselves in great music and conquer everything. One day, Spielbergs will achieve exactly this and not be the anomaly within the vast space of music.
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