Shimmering Stars are a trio from British Columbia who have their musical influences ingrained into every aspect of their craft. The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys and Phil Spector are all heavily referenced in the bands debut album Violent Hearts which does its best to sound like it was recorded in the '50s. Made up of wistful songs about teen frustration, youth and love, the record is full of guitar hooks, reverb-drenched choruses and sunny melodies, which sound like an appealing list of qualities to be contained within an album, yet over the course of the record, the reverb starts to feel slightly obstructive, taking president over the well crafted songs. Recorded in a garage, the album is rough and unpolished in places but is instilled with a ghostly quality that filters the band’s love of music from the past to make a slightly noisier and more homemade sounding result. This creates mixed results as it generates a certain charm and intimacy but also frustrates as the listener is left wondering what the album could sound like if it was recorded in a studio.
Although Shimmering Stars' sound is an innocent and simple one, their lyrics portray a darker and more sinister side to the group, for example 'I'm Gonna Try' begins with the lines "Walking down the street/ And I wanna kill everyone I meet" while later in the song, vocalist Rory McClure delicately delivers, "in my heart is a violence". Sombre lyrics such as these are balanced out by the daydream like instrumentation and Surf inspired style harmonies. 'Into The Sea' sounds like a depressed Beach Boys while the surfy hooks of 'Nervous Breakdown' and 'East Van Girls' combat the biting teen angst that is a theme running throughout.
When i approached this album, I was very excited to hear what Shimmering Stars would come up with after hearing the stand out track on the album 'I'm Gonna Try' a while back. Nothing really seems to better this song, however, although plenty of tracks come close. The record is full of catchy melodies but unfortunately, they become slightly cramped by the lack of space within the album. Violent Hearts is a respectful ode to the eras that inspire its creators but the lack of production quality frustratingly hinders it. Hopefully this release will enable them to move out of their garage and get into a studio with a producer who has the guts to turn down the reverb.