Teenage Filmstars – Star (Artpop!)

Just when I thought I’d heard every 1989-1993-era shoegaze album, Artpop! goes and re-releases this Teenage Filmstars album, which originally came out on Creation Records in 1992 yet never gets mentioned in any Creation/shoegaze histories. Ed Ball (The Television Personalities, The Times, O Level, and Creation Records executive) briefly recorded as Teenage Filmstars from 1979-1980, but resurrected the name twelve years on, after falling under the spell of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. By utilizing that album’s hypnotic guitar and drum-loop sounds, along with vast quantities of LSD – which he details in the liner notes – he crafted Star, an album of extreme psychedelic overload. The breathy vocals and brain-melting guitar sounds on opening numbers “Kiss Me” and “Loving” are probably the closest Star gets to the Kevin Shields archetype, but elsewhere flangers are set on over-drive for “Apple,” and “Flashes” is an excellent Screamadelica-esque psychedelic dance number, with vocals from Karen Parker (AKA the female voice on The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey”). The experimentation floats a little too far out into the ether during the formless triptych of “Vibrations,” “Soulful,” and “Hallucinations” but the guitar armageddon on the final track (save for three previously unreleased extras), “Moon,” ends the album perfectly. Teenage Filmstars would get even crazier on 1993’s Rocket Charms – an entire album recorded backwards! – but Star, for the most part, balances experiments with songs in a way that that screams “undiscovered classic”.