Starlight Mints Built on Squares

[Pias America; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: indie pop, snot rock
Others: Pavement, Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Spoon

Starlight Mints’ sophomore album release is pure off-kilter pop music. Coming off their influential and often overlooked debut album, The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of, Allan Vest and company return with a creative, head-strong pop record full of harmony and instrumentation that would cause anyone to compare them to the likes of The Kinks, David Bowie or The Beatles. Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma, same place that brought us The Flaming Lips, Starlight Mints are a perfect after dinner treat.

Pop music has gone through a significant transformation in the past few years. Perhaps I’m getting older, but music doesn’t have to be loud anymore. Inclusion of trumpet, organs, electronic effects, and much more obscure instrumentation has made pop music less generic and relatively unique and diverse. It seems that pop music is making a run at good ol’ rock and roll. While rock ‘n roll has trudged full steam ahead without looking back, pop music has been approaching closely behind by borrowing from many different styles and types of music. The Decemberists, Grandaddy, Flaming Lips, and now Starlight Mints have introduced a new way of creating original music without conforming to a specific genre. This is pop music, reconstructed and performed to please all fans and followers.

Starlight Mints’ Built on Squares is emotionally twisted, quirky and complicated. Yet it is pop music in its grandeur and simplicity. The two poles compliment each other to depict a strong musical approach that Starlight Mints have been crafting for the last few years. They have not reached their full potential, but Built on Squares shows tremendous improvement in their overall aptitude and showmanship. Mixing vast and ample violins and cellos intertwined with guitar, bass, trumpets, among many other instruments, Starlight Mints have fashioned a deeper emotional and stirring succession of songs while maintaining their bubble-gum pop stance. Overall, Starlight Mints have created a perfect ode to summer days camping at the cottage, lounging by the lake or reading a good book. And most impressive is the fact that they can only get better by broadening their exposure as a collective group in the future.

Starlight Mints’ Built on Squares is a great record. Full of catchy and unforgettable songs, it perfectly defines and outlines the direction that pop music is headed. So watch out rock ‘n roll, because pop music is back, closing in fast at the top of indie music-- thanks to creative and artistic bands like Starlight Mints.

1. Black cat
2. Brass digger
3. Goldstar
4. Pages
5. Buena Vista
6. Irene
7. Rinky dinky
8. Zillion Eyes
9. Jack in the squares
10. San Diego
11. Jimmy cricket