Starlight Mints

Drowaton (Barsuk)

SXSW Records

Starlight Mints

Drowaton (Barsuk)

It's a pretty well-established fact that the Starlight Mints, Norman, Okla.'s second-weirdest band, are great experimenters. 2003's Built on Squares was a testament to making meaning out of homonyms and rhyming words. Drowaton, the quartet's third LP, marks a huge leap forward artistically, moving from toying with the sounds that words can make to exploring how instruments can tell a story. Straightforward power-pop ("Inside of Me," "Pearls") snuggles up alongside bona-fide noise-rock weirdness that evokes a carnival. All the instrumental "Rhino Stomp," easily the best track on the album, needs is a midway barker. (Perhaps Tom Waits?) Heavy strings – upright bass plays the titular pachyderm in this tune – galumph through the mise-en-scène while quavery violins tremble in the trees. Meanwhile, "The Bee" sees the Mints return to their Built on Squares aesthetic, building an interesting instrumental narrative around nonsensical lyrics ("So I shouted through my megaphone, there's a lobster on my telephone"). The title track is a slow, druggy affair, with a repeating electronic "whoop" that unsettles and disconcerts, resisting the listener's urge to get too comfortable. Drowaton redefines storytelling, and that's no tall tale. (Thursday, March 16, 10pm @ Parish)

***.5

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