Stellastarr* : Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

Damn you, Simple Minds...

Listening to the hushed tones that the world seems to be speaking

of [a]Franz Ferdinand[/a] in these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the

combination of art school and rock n’ roll was something new, rather than an

association that’s as old as the hills. They may have gone there to stay

out the road of the buses – and in the latter’s case, to draw fucked-up

images of cripples – but Pete Townshend, Keith Richards and John Lennon were all art-star alumni long before ‘Take Me Out’ took constructivism to the


In the strictest sense of the word, [a]Stellastarr*[/a] are an art school band. Cerebral and visceral, stylish but removed from their native NY hipsters, in Shawn Christensen they even have a frontman who spends as much time mixing paint as he does mastering his axe.

All of this is well and good, but proper pop music needs a bit of buff factor. And [a]Stellastarr*[/a] have it down pat. As he spazzes and squirms across the stage like a less calculated Craig Nicholls during a darkly romantic ‘A Million Reasons’, a wandering male drunkard remarks to NME that “You could cut glass on Shawn’s titties.” Quite. And that’s without mentioning bassist Amanda Tannen, who makes every floppy-fringed heart in the room swoon.

Songs like the psychopathic ‘Jenny’ (how can you fault a song with a

headbanging-line as immortal as ‘Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!’?) or the freaked-out

paranoia of ‘In The Walls’ prove that an immaculate understanding of Dadaism

needn’t get in the way of terrific pop music, but it’s on new single ‘My

Coco’ that it all hangs together. Like stadium-era [a]U2[/a] minus Jesus and cheesy

politics or [a]New Order[/a] with a sense of sanity, it’s the greatest climax to

John Hughes’ seminal 80’s flick ‘The Breakfast Club’ that never was. Damn

you, [a]Simple Minds[/a], damn you all to Hell.

Barry Nicolson