Stargazer Lily's new album tells a classic story of romance and heartbreak--with a twist.
No one writes an entire album about love. People write entire albums about breaking up, and they write those because emotion guides the pen, and there's no event so desperate or traumatic as a bad breakup.
Falling in love takes four minutes. Breakups are forever.
Hayes explains, "Sue and I had both gone through a breakup a while back. We both wrote a lot about the things that affected us in the wake of that time."
The Philly band's Young Professionals, out next week on Junogi, is the culmination of that writing--a sometimes quirky, sometimes mundane testament to affairs of the heart. The disc tap-dances its way through the initial stages of flirtation before descending into layers of heartbreak and despair. Professionals is pierced with gender-bending hooks and understated riffs, played against a scale minimum of background noise.
Amid those riffs, there are moments of lyrical splendor--the sexiest of which is Rosetti's admission that she has a crush on everyone from the pizza boy to the girl next door. The Stargazer frontwoman achieves new levels of nasal whining on Professionals, her appeals for affection so sensual, fans should be paying $1.95 a minute to listen.
The songs maintain a sense of humor. Rosetti and Hayes are eager to poke the yuppie class with a stick whenever the opportunity presents itself. The album's title track is a backhanded salute to the city's best and whitest--a homogenous bunch who could be found at a Stargazer show only if they made a wrong turn on their way to the Plough.
"Knowing what we do, when you read the lyrics of that song, you can see we're sort of making fun of ourselves," says bassist Jim Miades. "Even the artwork on the record reflects that idea."
There are two songs on the disc that take a break from the relationship motif. The first is written about escape, the second about going home.
In its closing moments Professionals disappears in a string of blade-to-wrist chanteys ("Defying Gravity," "Lovesickened," "Nothing Is Useless," "Darlin' You Need Me"). As the curtain falls, romance is depicted as a sucker's game.
Stargazer's success has always been predicated upon an ability to weave above-average musicianship and tender vocals into something more powerful. They're most poignant when not taking themselves too seriously. During the final chorus of the album, it's as if someone pulled the plug, and we're left waiting for the patient to die. Gone is the schoolgirl innocence of "Crush" and "Kiss Me." What remains is mostly doom and gloom--a suit that fails to reflect the erotic blue of the quartet's finer vignettes.
That said, Young Professionals is a better-than-worthwhile effort that succeeds in more places than it fails. Beyond that, it's a chance for the band to develop its fan base beyond Philadelphia.
Over the past two years Stargazer has expanded its touring schedule, playing regular gigs in New York, Boston and Virginia. They plan to make a cross-country swing this time 'round, supporting the record in any market that'll have them.
"In regard to whether we're closer [to making it] than we were two years ago, we might be," says drummer Brian "Scooter" Hassinger. "The music industry now is so much more fucked up with artists losing money or getting ripped off. So it's kind of depressing that bands think they're getting the brass ring they've been reaching for, when in reality, it's rarely what they thought it would be. As the industry adjusts to that, no one really knows how it's gonna end up. So we made this record on our own label in the hopes that as radio starts to redefine itself, we can be a part of that on our own terms."
The tour kicks off with a record release party at World Cafe Live on Friday. Advance copies of the CD will be available at that time.
"We've always tried to make our record release parties something special," says Hayes. "The last time we made it a big deal, and it worked out well. This time we want to do something even better for our old fans and our new ones. We want everyone to come out and enjoy themselves. It's gonna be a special show for us, and we think it will be for them also."
All young professionals are encouraged to attend.
Record release party: Fri., Oct. 29, 8pm. $14-$16. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. www.worldcafelive.com