Starflyer 59 – Old – Review

Starflyer 59

Old (Tooth & Nail)
by Tim Den

I don’t know what I love more about Starflyer 59, their ever-graceful songwriting or their continuing defiance of the music industry’s pandering to pre-pubescents. As if songs on their last album (Leave Here a Stranger) didn’t already show this band’s wit and self-deprecation (with titles like “When I Learn to Sing,” “Can You Play Drums?”, and “All My Friends Who Play Guitar”), Old embraces everything supposedly “un-rock ‘n’ roll” with such diginity that “growing old” might finally become hipper than being fashionably hollow and looking like you only wear kid-size clothes.

Okay, maybe not, but one can dream… The cover art alone speaks volumes: A lonely figure staring into a threshold, his stance resigned yet experience-weary, his hands (probably) calloused from more hard work than your fucking rich Daddy’s Kid will ever see. He carries his age without shame, unafraid to acknowledge his body’s slow withering. This is elegance, people. Not dressed-up mannequin diva singers, not wannabe Wendy O. Williams trash whores, not ironic dim-witted hipsters; but a man who has seen more of life’s different faces than you ever will. And his silence only proves that he doesn’t need to brag about any of it… unlike you, ya two-bit wet-behind-the-ears punk.

The music, like the album’s theme, portrays a somber reflection that often finds the narrator dealing with life’s shifting tides (“New Wife, New Life”). Whether strapping on My Bloody Valentine’s guitar licks (“Loved Ones”) or crooning a funereal hymn (the title track), Starflyer 59 somehow convey a lifetime of regrets, triumphs, and losses in every note. Guitarist/vocalist Jason Martin has never sounded more resigned-yet-resilient, and the band actually rocks out harder here than on their last two full-lengths, thanks to new members Richard Swift (keyboards/backup vocals) and Frank Lenz (drums/backup vocals).

Perhaps closer “First Heart Attack” sums up the album best: While nodding at your body’s decay, you understand that age is what makes you a man. Maybe you’re no longer pin-up material (the insert is full of black & white photos of the band members, wrinkles and all), but at least your rock ‘n’ roll sounds more seasoned than ever. And, just like the fading drum/heart beats at the end of the song, you’ll keep going at it with dignity and grace. Starflyer 59 make beautiful music that makes me proud of growing old.
(PO Box 12698 Seattle, WA 98111)