So, I’m thinking it’s Friday night somewhere in a quiet Midwestern suburb and some popular middle school girls are throwing a rambunctious party weeks before their first days in the big leagues: high school. Obviously, their popularity is largely devoted to their trendy sensibilities and indie music tastes: the central force which never ceased to illicit envy from the ‘lesser’ tweens in town. Fueled by massive levels of naivety, inflated egos, and self-image concerns, STRFKR‘s Miracle Mile is the abysmal soundtrack to that stereotype-fulfilling, booze-laden, parents-out-for-the-night house party.
And that’s the only scenario in which Miracle Mile could possibly be taken seriously. Despite the fact that any indie-pop fan could easily dish out nearly a hundred records better fitting, and certainly more exciting, for the occasion, STRFKR (you can call them Starfucker if you’re over the age of 12) strike out with the resounding exhaustion of creativity, pursuing the weaker ends of the band’s musicianship and flat out failing to even deliver an effectively simple pop record.
Theoretically, STRFKR’s earlier, more promising records (Starfucker and Jupiter) indicated a follow-up record to build on their charming, quirky pop hooks and grooves. They’ve always created ‘flavor-of-the-week’ bubble-gum pop; what STRFKR failed to recognize is how that sub-category can be an excellent starting point to develop a more interesting, original sonic brand for themselves. Unlike Passion Pit or MGMT, STRFKR continued exploring their underdeveloped sound as if they had already peaked. STRFKR, sinking several levels down the indie food chain, now feature consistently bland production, ultra-cheap sounding instruments and compositions so bland a high school pop band could teach these guys a thing or two. When a band stylistically backpedals, it usually stems from specifically realized musings and fresh ideas; on Miracle Mile, it’s almost as if STRFKR were slowly suffering from memory loss and all their past, half-decent ideas are crapping out.
From the gloriously flat-sounding, alleged ‘party-starting’ opener “While I’m Alive” to the 7-minute closing snooze-fest slow burner “Nite Rite”, we’re strung along 15 studio recordings which, even by STRFKR‘s standards, hardly stand as interesting B-sides: be it the 2-minute marathon of vocalists cooing and ya-ya-ing on the self-titled track “YAYAYA”, the lifeless instrumentation on tracks “Malmo” and “Atlantis” (which play out no better than a shitty GarageBand project someone spent a half-hour on) or the appallingly mixed vocals highlighted on “Sazed”, “Beach Monster” and “Isea”.
One could speculate on the band’s chemistry, or complete lack thereof, that amounted to Miracle Mile. I can imagine a rushed studio session where all the band members hated each other and scraped the floor for a paycheck, or maybe everyone just got too drunk to maintain good judgment regarding the band’s future. It could be that Miracle Mile turned out to be STRFKR‘s grand thesis concerning the lifelessness within synthetic pop music, which if were the case, would slap that grade down to an F. Indie pop projects are best looked at from a skeptical light, but with Miracle Mile, you’re fresh out of justifying angles. Here lies the failed art of a generic take on generic music: a dozen cheap synthesizers included.