[sic] Magazine

Stellarscope – The End Is Near. I’m Not Prepared.

Talk about setting yourself up for a fall. Clunky title. Cheesy artwork. It’s a knockout one-two that The End Is Near. I’m Not Prepared. never quite recovers from. It’s a pity because Stellarscope’s Tom Lugo and Bob Forman, prolific Philadelphia residents both, have been knocking out decent space-rocking shoegaze-psyche since the late 90s on Lugo’s own Patetico label.

Now setting their sights on audience-expanding post-punk the pair often land closer to stadium Goth, muddy production cutting their pomp and theatre down to size on tracks like “Make Her Pay” – Lugo’s snarl and his slashing guitar muffled in a shoebox. Musically though we are on pretty solid if derivative ground. Lugo’s varied vocal does leave a lot to be desired however. One minute he’s monotonous for a spectral bout of introspection (“Luxurai”) the next he’s aping Robert Smith (“It Finally Happened”) but somehow still drained of life. Either way he never quite seems to be in control of either the tune or the song. All the same you suspect it’d all come together live, the claustrophobia of strobe light and those churning cement-mixer effects making up for some of the camp, B-side kraut you find on record (“One Way Ticket”).

After wading through the above it quickly becomes clear that the Stellarscope of 2014 are at their best when they’re at their loudest. Rallying from insipid indie gloom like “It’s A Revelation” they bring the noise for fuzzed-out fighters like “This Will End Tonight” and the A Place To Bury Strangers-like “Zombie Stomp”. And if there’s not a Death By Audio pedal driving the distorted KVB-esque riot “You Never Learn” forward I’ll be very surprised too. All things considered Stellarscope are probably best off sticking to what they know.

~The End Is Near. I’m Not Prepared. is out now on Patetico Recordings.~