<.> – Reviews

RELEASED 8 May 2007

CD (SUML 17(CD))

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Lasse Paulus - Crazewire, July 2007

Die belgische Musikszene ist immer für eine Überraschung gut. Neben den Kritikerlieblingen Deus gibt es immer wieder Bands, die auf Anhieb überzeugen können. Vor einigen Wochen begeisterte bereits Sioen mit einer überdurchschnittlichen Platte. Und nun kommt mit dem Debüt von Showstar das nächste kleine Hitalbum auf uns zu.

Denn Showstar können mit ihrem Debütalbum „.”, was man wie „dot” aussprechen soll, überzeugen. Dabei klingen sie dankenswerterweise nicht wie die obengenannten Götter der belgischen Musikszene, sondern nach England Mitte der 90er Jahre. Schöne Melodien, gepaart mit einem sonnigen Flair, bieten beste Unterhaltung. Unaufdringliche Musik, die man im Hintergrund laufen lassen kann, ohne dass sie irgendwo aneckt (Ausnahmen: „Mad On Your Sister”, „Get Drunk”). Man kann sie aber auch „bewusst” hören, um dann festzustellen, wie wunderschön die Melodien der einzelnen Songs doch sind.

Es fragt sich nur, ob das heutzutage noch jemand hören möchte. Und das ist der einzige auszumachende Schwachpunkt des ganzen Albums. Die Gradwanderung zwischen Popappeal und Belanglosigkeit kann manchmal sehr schwierig sein. An dieser Hürde sind schon ganz andere Bands gescheitert. Nicht so Showstar. Und dazu kann man der Band gratulieren.

Punkte: 8 von 10

Brett Spaceman - Evil Sponge, May 2007

Showstar are an NME band – a post-Libertines mixture of jaunty, lazy juvenility. They are at their most pleasing when harsh guitars combine with upbeat keys to propel their impressive melodies. In these days when rehab counts for more than reverb, Showstar should be stars. The only reason they have not yet been tossed onto the cover of said weekly publication is their passports. Instead of dropping into the ocean of UK bands such as Maximo Park, Rakes, Futureheads, Kaisers, and Arctics; Showstar pop up in Belgium of all places!

I initially thought this album was self-titled, but I now understand it to be called <.> (literally pronounced “dot”) On <.>, the francophone Showstar deliver each of their ten short songs in the English language. You have to admire writers operating outside their mother tongue and for Showstar in particular it amounts to something of a gamble. In terms of ambition, it proves that the band recognize that their ultimate destination should be cross-channel. Yet it does risk alienating a percentage of Showstar’s potential Belgian market as well as harming their chances of breaking in France, which is a fairly big deal for bands in their position. Kudos then for this decision!

I’m not mad on opener Mad On Your Sister, a jaunty pub-rock stomp that could be any of the above mentioned bands. Thing improve immeasurably during and after Superlover, as keyboards come to the fore and Showstar seem less embarrassed about their melodic hooks. The album’s first lovely surprise hits us in the form of Day By Day. This is pure Boo Radleys – a slice of exquisite Mersey pop that would rank alongside Martin Carr’s best melodic offerings (e.g., Barney and Me). Things even shimmer a little on Stereo Songs recalling Lightning Seeds or Doves (Words) before wow moment No 2, Special Gun. How good is this? Without getting carried away I’m tempted to use words such as “Fanclub” and “Teenage” in combination with “Boys” and “Beach”. I probably shouldn’t, but Special Gun is ace, so shoot me.

Of the rest, The Monster = You and Dan are lovely, but again very Boo Radleys. Slow and Paper Tigers explore the discordant nu wave of Bloc Party, while Get Drunk is embarrassingly poor. I’m sorry to say this track serves only to highlight the band’s impoverished lyrics. While elsewhere this hardly seems to matter, on a tune as ropey as this, the equally lightweight content really jars.

The Belgian music scene is full of “stars” at present. Showstar, Novastar (who should be massive), and Hollywood Porn Stars all hail from the land of beer and chocolate and, like their country, all with much more than meets the eye. But will the real Showstar please stand up? If they’re serious about being the stars of the latest UK show, then they ought to take some drugs and get photographed falling over in the street with some young model. I probably can’t help them. However if, as I’d hope, they want to follow The Boo Radleys’ ambitious pop template, the next steps they take must be giant.

Bruce Turnbull - God Is In The TV, June 2007

A rarity in itself, Dutch indie rockers Showstar’s follow up to their commercially approbated debut “We Are Ready” couldn’t be slicker. There is a degree of understanding weaving throughout the tracks as the album runs; the pure knowledge of what makes song writing a rewarding practice. The way the album progresses from dicey opener “Mad On Your Sister” to the likes of “Special Gun” and the austere, yet placated nature of “Superlover” is like a crisp salad of The Thrills, Ash and The Lightning Seeds, comfortably dressed with a slithering of Keane and Ocean Colour Scene. Tasty.

“<.>” – pronounced ‘dot’ – is an enchanted listen, with soft, progressive musical soundscapes draped over cold, almost brumal sentimentalities. Not afraid to crank up the volume when needed, Showstar effortlessly transform into a myriad of styles like a vigilant chameleon, waiting for just the right time to change and blend in with their surroundings.

Perhaps due to their previous support slot, Showstar have a tendency to sound very similar to The Thrills; every song is chock full of hard-edged guitars, counter balanced with shiny hooks, smart, sophisticated melodies and light, airy vocals. The band morph briefly into The Beatles for “Stereo Songs”, whilst the soft, delicate guitars and dreamy keys paint lyrical symphonies on the melancholic “Dan”, which in this case, is the strongest, most memorable track the album has to offer.

A very diverse collection of songs considering the genre, and one fans of indie/melodic rock needn’t miss out on. Christophe Danthinne has the perfect voice for this kind of music, and far from being a major influence, his style and delivery will no doubt appeal to followers of the aforementioned bands. A powerful, dynamic UK release. What are you waiting for?