Starling Sustainer

There is a camp of music fans that revere pop as high art, where Jellyfish and Matthew Sweet are the masters of a universe and cheeky melodies and clever lyrics suspend happy spirits in a joyous ether. Ottawa's Starling, fronted by singer/songwriter Ian Lefeuvre, has produced an album of pure guitar-pop that will surely satisfy anyone who has an addiction to refined ditties. "Earnest" is the obvious standout track on the first few listens, with a killer chorus that would have any producer dancing a jig in the control room. "Die Hard Crush" is another great song that is both an excellent pop song and just a great album track as well. The opening melody of "Celibate" sounds like something Joni Mitchell would have penned in the early '70s, and that's a big compliment. What differentiates Starling from most new pop bands is that they understand that repetition does allow for variation. Melodies are slightly changed, nothing repeats exactly and little nuances are added to verses and choruses instead of being carbon copies of each other. Whether you call this subtle musical sophistication or craftsmanship, it is what makes Lefeuvre all the more talented as he engineered and produced the album. Sustainer could be a very big album this year. (Time Bomb)