Starlight Mints – The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of

Starlight Mints
The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of

This Norman, OK. band starts this very good CD with a slicing violin/cello burst and quickly gets things moving with a odd pop blend that includes influences ranging from the Pixies, the Violent Femmes, the Beatles, and Pavement, to pre-80s David Bowie.
Allan Vest is the singer/songwriter for this collection of talented musicians. It is his voice that truly adds an interesting signature to this off-kilter pop (my favorite kind of pop)!
The first three songs on this CD, “Submarine#3,” “the Bandit,” and “Sir Prize,” all are well-structured pop songs with interesting noises, string additions, and other “on the side” diversions. Clearly, none of these diversions actually divert you from the substance of the music. “The Bandit” comes off with a big Violent Femmes flair and “Sir Prize,” screams post-Pixies Frank Black. The super-far-out keyboard (or is that just a wierd sounding guitar?) on “Blinded by You,” reminds one of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” days.
And that is what the Starlight Mints are: “far-out-pop.” That sounds a little corny, but I can’t think of any other way to describe their odd chord changes, original use of instrumentation, and a way better than average production flavor. The production here actually allows you to hear the music. There is no “over-compression.” These songs sound real and raw. So, I use a lot of bands above to give you a feel for what are probably the Mints influences – but really, their odd-ball flair sets them apart from most high-energy pop bands of yesterday and today.
By far, the best songs on this release come in the first seven tracks. I am not sure if that was planned or not, but after song seven, things do go downhill. Not that the last five songs don’t have some redeeming quality, they just aren’t as good as the first seven. On that note, “Cracker Jack,” (song 7) has a very eerie, dragging sound with a great Frank Black-esque chorus. It is the kind of song you wish Frank Black and the Pixies did more of. But hey, seven really good songs and five other good ones – what more can one ask for? That is pretty good for a release these days!
One has to wonder how many bands name the Pixies as an influence. My guess is that it would be in the tens of thousands – and many of them don’t have a clue as to how to incorporate that sound into their music without coming off as poor carbon copies or 2nd rate, talentless jokes. Well, here the Starlight Mints show us all that you can use such influences to make great music without coming off as “wanna-bes.”
Truly an interesting and happening album and well worth the listen – especially if you are a Frank Black or Pixies fan or you just like great pop. E6 fans would get this stuff too.