Starmarket – Four Hours Light

Four Hours Light

Starmarket pleasantly surprised me with this, the newest full-length album from this Swedish band. While Calendar, their last album, wasn’t bad, it just didn’t stand out from the host of other rock albums. It showed promise, hinting at emo melodicism and indie rock structure, but there was somewhat of a lack of hooks and originality. Four Hours Light shows that the band is still improving, even with several albums under their belts.

This band plays music that’s certainly accessible to the American audience. With a light and lofty sound on this album, the band combines some poppy hooks, some well played melodic guitars, and vocals that are both deep and emotional. These songs deal with love and loss, friendship and hatred, covering the emo gambit without getting too trite. Mostly, though, they’re just some finely crafted rock songs that make you sing along and nod your head.

“Into Your Arms” kicks things off with some jangly picked guitar and some jingling tambourine, layering on subtle melodic guitars and bass lines to create a more atmospheric rocker with a chorus that is definitely catchy and sing-along. There’s even a nice interlude of warbling, 60’s-ish guitars. “Black Sea” gets almost silent at times, singer Frederik Brandstrom’s vocals stretching to convey the feeling behind the song. “Count with Fractions” is more up-tempo, with post-hardcore energy and driving guitars. But it’s on songs like “When the Light in My Heart is Out” that the band’s new sound shines. It’s slower, with accordion (perhaps), piano and soft drums, a more heartfelt and yet unbearably pleasant song. “Baby’s Coming Back” plays with synthesized drums and a very poppy sound yet turning more driving and powerful for the chorus. Brandstrom’s accent is only audible on a few tracks, like the synthesizer laden slower “Midnight Caller,” but it just adds another element and doesn’t detract at all from the song. “Coming From the Cold” has some very pretty, Mineral-esque guitar with a strong rhythm. That guitar shines on “A Million Words,” making for another special song, with multiple layers of guitar, each clear and crisp. And “Drive By” is near perfect, with a stellar driving guitar riff and excellent vocals. And the album finishes with “Tonight,” a piano ballad, with Brandstrom almost crooning this emotional song.

Starmarket is one of those rare foreign bands that have the American sound down pat. This album is so much better than their last album, pulling hook after hook with some crisp, layered melodic guitar and strong vocals that sound as if they’ve gotten considerably more confident. This album flirts with a mainstream rock sound but doesn’t throw its hat into that ring entirely, instead just using the rock structure to combine emo energy and melodicism and pop hooks into something that’s both catchy and powerful. An excellent surprise from this band.