Life On Mars 2021
To fight a saddening bore of yore, two venerated songwriters grab strands of the future and tie it into knots.
No prizes for guessing whose sonic palette this little band chose as a platform for their platters, yet though Earl Kayoss and Fernando Perdomo use Starman-patented melodic pathos for LIFE ON MARS pieces, you won’t be able to pinpoint direct allusions to David Bowie’s classics here. In other words, it’s not a pastiche per se – if it was, the joke would have run its course long before the American duo delivered their fourth record; still, “At Stars End” is more than a homage to everyone’s favorite chameleonesque icon, because the album, staying true to Ziggy’s sound and vision, also channels his spirit. That’s why there are social commentary and soul-searching to spice up the ensemble’s nuanced psychedelia on “Nancy’s Finger” and the rest of the numbers.
And this is why what first feels like claustrophobia on scintillating opener “Only One” will be stripped to acoustic paranoia for the cut’s reprise, the album’s finale, which finds Kayoss alone, voice drenched in echo, dispensing wisdoms such as “the truth is just a lie told in stereo” with abject dread, whereas Perdomo’s six-string assaults color the city tinsel of “Hurricane Jane” that harks back to the group’s 2015 debut. Going for tuneful ruckus on “The Key” and turning “Rock People” into relentless, triumphant march, the two artists don’t need a lot of extraneous help now. So while Denny Seiwell’s drums drive the irresistible, guitar harmonies-infused sentiment of “She’s Already Gone” and the principal pair produce faux-orchestral space for “And Besides…” whose Mellotron-enhanced romantic melody hits hard, the raw-power riffs and frantic solo, plus acerbic vocals, of “Stray Dog” are possessed of maximal allure.
Maybe, that’s enough to prepare the listener for the soaring despair of “What I Have Done” before “Every Single Day” brings aural rainbow back for a new bout of noise, and “Wanting” lets sweet smoke of nostalgia for Fernando and Earl to fill their cosmic sails and embrace retrofuturistic perspective. Whether they need to stay on the Red Planet for another album is a moot point, of course.