Showstar have aimed to “capture the hearts and minds of housewives, students…and motorists stuck in traffic” through pop-perfection on previous albums. The Belgian group have already enjoyed abundant European airplay and shared a stage with the likes of Wild Beasts, the Charlatans and the Rakes. Yet they have recorded slightly more offbeat and obtuse material with Go Team! and Beta Band producer Gareth Parton for this third album. Think Ringo retains a clear sense of melody but emerges tinged by a slight other-worldliness. The results are largely fun. The mix brims with impressive clarity, as though the instruments are separated in airtight compartments within.
Think Ringo is a conventional indie rock album with more variance than most. It makes for deceptively eclectic listening. While there are underlying similarities with the Electric Soft Parade, Sharko and the Beatles, Showstar branch out with a cohesive subtlety. The opening “Residents of the Lost Club” possesses a ghostly immediacy, recalling Syd Barrett, Fields, and Mission of Burma as the tone shifts from chirpy to foreboding. “Love” is enjoyably upbeat and drenched in dEUS and Mersey beat. It criticises “the way you turn my anger into sadness” with bounce. “On the Telly” has gleeful inanity and offbeat charm to match the Apples In Stereo. “My Name Is John” sounds dysfunctional in Technicolor, reverberating with energy akin to Much Against Everyone’s Advice-era Soulwax and REM’s “Star 69.”
While Showstar’s general keenness to imbue catchiness with the quirky and offbeat misfires on the bemusing “Finger Generation,” this approach largely succeeds. “Battle of the Bands” chronicles pop magazines and realistic notions of “fame and glory” with Wayne Coyne wistfulness and Rivers Cuomo melody. The title track echoes Trompe Le Monde and Whipping Boy, while “Your Eighties” deserves favourable comparisons with Miss Black America and AC Acoustics. With no gimmicks in site, Showstar do a wonderful job of adapting the boilerplate.
The Apples In Stereo – No. 1 Hits Explosion
Sharko – Meeuws2
The Electric Soft Parade – Holes in the Wall