The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, August 29, 2003, Music

God Drives a Galaxy

Pale Blue Dot (Strangelove) If Billy Corgan took himself a little less seriously and David Bowie was a little less flip, you'd have God Drives a Galaxy frontman John Constant. On the Austin quartet's third release, Constant's sad-eyed song craft has caught up to the sonic art-pop the band has been driving at since its inception. Starting off on heavenly high note "Static Free," Pale Blue Dot is fraught with shivery, quivery keys and mysterious, broad guitar, which evolve into alternating bursts of sing-songy playfulness and angry intensity. Throughout, Constant's scandalously androgynous vox adds the right degree of the uncanny, whether it's icing the beautifully layered "Be" or providing the glam-whiny pout of "The American." The group never crosses the line into artsy pretensions, instead concerning itself primarily with playing around weirdly dissonant harmonies that please rather than grate, while sustaining the affable, playful vibe from start to finish. The only (slight) misstep here is on the final track, "Strange Life," in which the a cappella repetition of the chorus is prolonged a few moments too long. It's never a good idea to irritate your listener as you're wrapping things up. This is negligible, of course, because Pale Blue Dot is the closest thing to divine inspiration Austin has seen in a while.


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