[sic] Magazine

Stellarscope – This Is Who We Are

Several long-players into your career and you should be owning your own sound. To a degree, Stellarscope are doing just that with the chest-beating egotism of This Is Who We Are. Their heavy riffs, psych-rock meanderings and shoegaze washes place them well within contention. Tom Lugo ‘s under-produced vocal evokes a spaced out and manic frontman far from reality.

Pounding drums, crashing guitar and hardcore psychedelic dalliances combine with Lugo’s thin voice, and it’s a compatible, one-dimensional trick worth repeating on both “Just Like Flowers” and “Sell Your Soul”. The opener even thinks for a while that it’s Led Zeppelin , but loses its way in pub-circuit rock and aimless extension. Guitars are firmly set to rock however for the huge assault of “Sound Of God”, which recalls the ear-bothering efforts of White Hills . As it does elsewhere, and though here present, the bass nevertheless seems too flat for the material. It wants to flatten buildings yet serves only to nervously touch them up.

This Is Who We Are is ultimately defined by the closing three-part epic “Queremos Paz” that brings to mind some lesser Grateful Dead indulgence. Plodding percussion and commendable psych-rock swelling builds into a questionable looped sample of “Dubya” Bush discussing WMDs. It’s a threatening mix curious to a track that translates as “We Want Peace”. What’s more, it’s a heavy-handed crowbarring of political agenda into an album that didn’t need it. This said, and with two and half minutes to go, it breaks with a massive tempo change into highly-charged shredding and otherwise absent pummelling.

Stellarscope only fall short of their intended stars because of production. It isn’t clean, but it didn’t need to be. It isn’t full and that’s where it fails. If Kevin Shields had the reigns, naturally the ambient drone would have been upped, but This Is Who We Are would have been less anaemic. If Machine had been drafted to do a “ Lamb Of God ” on the album, it would probably have been given the balls it’s missing. In both hypothetical scenarios, This Is Who We Are would consequently no longer have been Stellarscope. As it stands, Stellarscope do own their own sound. It’s just a pity then that other people’s are better.

This Is Who We Are is out now on Patetico Recordings.