Saturday, June 28, 2008

The final piece of the Holy Trinity which is Pell Mell's great succession of studio releases in the 1990s: 1992's The Flow, '95's Interstate and this, their 1997 swan song, originally slated to be released on Geffen before being given the dumpsville treatment from that corporate giant, only to be subsequently released on the mini-corporate giant, Matador Records. I'm pretty sure this isn't in print anymore. Pell Mell remain a band those in the know like to speak of, though I'm not so sure as to how any of their sales figure shold up. Hey, prove me wrong! Star City is probably their best album, a disc of such immense studio spit 'n' shine - in a good way - with a sound so crisp and melodies so subtle and sublime, and yet so insidiously catchy after repeated listens, you'll find it hard not to revisit. The opener, "Sky Lobby", borders on muzak, with an airbrushed quality which once again has me thinking of Steely Dan, as if a dud note would mean pay docked. I'm probably making it sound like not a whole lotta fun, though that's not where I'm going here. The second track, "Salvo", takes a different course; it's all clipped melodies and Beefheart-ish guitar lines, kinda like 'Ubu during their early '80s death throes (records I love, even though it appears few others do). The rest of the album carries on in a similar fashion, a melange of ambient, surf, Duane Eddy guitar twang and kraut-ish motorik. God bless 'em for ending on a high note.

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