Strawflower - Greetings from the Stardust Motel (Album Review)

LA surf rockers Strawflower make a convincing argument for leaving it all behind in the name of debaucherous pleasures on their debut album "Greetings from the Stardust Motel". Featuring a classy and mostly laid-back sound, the group flits between chillaxed beach vibes and darker forays into alternative rock, unanimously delivered with snappy melodic wit. There's little grit among the album's finely produced 10 tracks, though there are shades of darkness hidden among the seemingly carefree. 

The steadfast and catchy melody of the lead single "Haunting of the Hollywood Hills" opens the collection with charm. There's a Beckeqsue suave to this mysteriously detached single, though its earworm melody is the star of the show. Conversely, "Tiki Bar" is overly kitschy, enjoyable in a milquetoast way, and the middle-of-the-road mid-tempo "Burned Blue" makes an innocuous but congenial impression. 

Strawflower's secret weapon is their tightness. "Television" seems to exist on a bed of springs, and bounces along while seeking spiritual rebirthing through lyrics given a heavy hand of hope "I need television, I need a new religion... I need new beginnings, I need a life worth living". Perhaps this track is a glimpse into the core nature of these songs. Despite the sunny disposition, there's a feeling the narrator is at a crossroads, deciding whether to stay up all and wait for the sunrise, or get a sensible night's rest. 

That being said, the album does have its shallower moments. The disco good-time of "Indigo" exists solely to entertain. Likewise, the high-pitched quaver of the saccharine country twinged "Stardust Motel" could be grating to fans of the more fashionable songs here. 

There are moments when one is reminded of Tom Hanks' excellent 1996 comedy "That Thing You Do", especially in the 60s suburban twinged "Here Comes My Baby" and the Beatlesque bop of "The Long Goodbye". This nostalgia often yields anachronistic sentiments but also delivers innocent guilty pleasures, such as the closing track, "Other Nights", with its romantic look skyward. 

"Greetings from the Stardust Motel" by Strawflower is an assured debut that covers surf rock, country, and pop with starry-eyed optimism. While there are some high points on the album, none ever quite reach the sharp edge of the lead single. Instead, everything moves forward at an acceptable and often charming pace.