When “Bullfight” came out earlier this year, it set the tone for what LA-based psych-rock band Velvet Starlings were going for on their newly released third album, Pacific Standard Time. Running on pumped-up matador kicks while they wrestled the bull of an instrumental, “Bullfight” helped kick down the door for the band and announced their return.
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With the final project out, the quartet has unleashed something that couldn’t have been predicted. Fronted by Christian Gisborne, whose dyed hair and vocal style are reminiscent of Jack White, Velvet Starlings have packed Pacific Standard Time with every idea they had. And strangely, it works.
“Turning Point” marks, well, a turning point in how the band updates old styles of rock, banging to the sound of drums hammering home behind Gisborne’s appropriately 60s vocal inflections. In this case, the style is experimental rock, which bears similarities to The United States of America. But to their credit, the structure is not unlike previous songs from the band and doesn’t overstay its welcome, coming in at a well-paced three minutes and twenty-three seconds.
None of the tracks on the album drag on at all and move from idea to idea as if they’re running out of studio time. “Amaz0n Prime” does the same, ripping and roaring faster than a same-day package delivery. If it weren’t for the title, the song could be mistaken for something The White Stripes would have made had they existed during the rise of psychedelic drugs. Though Gisborne gets more than enough room to show off his natural shouting ability, it’s the garage rock-styled guitar that steals the show and adds fuel to Velvet Starlings’ already burning fire.
Pacific Standard Time is an odd concoction of musical ingredients stirred inside a witch’s cauldron, combining different elements from genres of varying differences. In a worst-case scenario, the resulting sound could come off as a confused fusion unsure of itself.
But Velvet Starlings avoid that scenario, something only musicians raised on unpredictable Internet culture and a possible “born in the wrong generation” phase could do. As for the future of the band, the exciting listening experience of Pacific Standard Time is sure to instate an expectation for the unexpected.
Words: David Sosa
Pacific Standard Time by Velvet Starlings is out on all streaming services. For more on new music and live shows, including an opening spot for benches at SOMA in San Diego on Sept. 16, follow them on Instagram and their website.