Norway - Full Moon 119 - 06/11/06
They Came From The Sun...
Ho-hum, a new Astroburger album! The first in four years. As far as I know, They Came From The Sun... is the band's album no. seven and a half, including one side of a split-LP, one 11th anniversary compilation LP and the compilation Equalize It containing the best from the
moonthly singles series in 2001.
It's not easy to discern a straight development within the Astroburger collective after the first staggering, but charming, attempts in the late 1980s. They Came From The Sun... doesn't sound very different from the Astroburger we used to love in the early and late 90s and the early 00s. Despite the
fact that 30(?)-something members have drifted in and out of the band since the humble beginnings. We're still talking about garage-fuzz-pop-rock with a twinkle in the eye and of the not too pretentious kind. The instrumental skills have improved during the years, though. By now they seem to have stabilized as a solid
trio, from somewhere more central in our galaxy.
There are a few glimpses from rock and pop history here, short traces of early and mid period The Who, The Byrds before turning completely country and early Teenage Fanclub, to name but a few... Isn't there even a riff not far from The Specials' classic "Ghost Town" in there? And "The Summer Of Relief" is more than a nod in direction of earlier Norwegian colleagues and playmates The Tables. But, of course, first and foremost the album sounds like Astroburger, mainly thanks to only stable member, front man, tune- and wordsmith, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Don Bingo (Geir Stadheim). Though don't underestimate the efforts by the other two members. By now Mr. Bingo concentrates more on the vocals and keys. On a couple of instrumentals here, he doesn't play at all. Still, they've got the Astroburger flavour all over them. Sound-wise They Came From The Sun... seems to be the logical successor to 1999s Inferno In Fano. There are more organs than 1970s sounding synthesizers by now, I guess at least compared to the singles from 2001. But hey, who gets ever tired of the eternally young Farfisa sound?
There are no instant or ultimate tracks that stand out. "Blindfolded, Misguided, Discarded" is noisy almost-punk, the backing vocals are more shouts than eh ...vocals and with an organ going wild now and then. Whereas "Did It For Myself" seems to be the most sincere of the lot. Who else would've dared to copy John Lennon's title "Power To The People"? Astroburger's song starts in a very different league, half-ballad and dreamy. But then the awakening with harsh choruses and guitar solos. I much prefer it to Lennon's, in retrospect, rather pathetic revolutionary attempt. I'm also pleased that the band still sticks to the odd instrumentals. Here are three of them. I particularly enjoy "Black Potatoes/White Chips", quite fast, a little bit furious and great fun. "Free Will" has a delightful next to sad nostalgic feel that characterizes the best underground pop of Norway from the last 18 years or so. If there is a contender for the soundtrack of summer 2006 here, it has to be aforementioned "The Summer Of Relief" that 'is calling, calling all night long'.
Sometimes the trio is on the verge of turning into a straight mid-tempo rock band, but a surprising twist or disarming pop-turn always appear before it's too late. They Came From The Sun... is in no way outstanding. But it's reassuring to know that Astroburger is still around. And in due time the album
will fit nicely along with most of the other Astroburger releases and become a dear old friend.
Copyright © 2006 JP