March of 2020 will go down as a banner month for our living spaces. In a matter of days, bedrooms became movie theaters, couches were converted into offices, kitchens turned into experimental bakeries—for many of us, our homes were suddenly our whole world. For Carolyn Brennan and Ian Corrigan, the unforeseen time at home gave birth to what they call a “living room project,” aka a noisy pop band called Star Party that, unlike a lot of quarantine hobbies, lives on today.
By October of that cursed year, Brennan and Corrigan had enough songs to convince punk label Feel It Records to release a cassette of the Seattle-based duo’s demos (plus biting covers of Scottish indie-pop heroes Shop Assistants and Cher’s version of a Bob Dylan tune). Now, Star Party is back with their debut album Meadow Flower, a collection of eight combustible tracks that cram a whole bunch of fuzzy hooks into a brief 19-minute run time.
Corrigan is a veteran of Northwest punk mainstays like Gen Pop and Vexx, two groups that know how to put the pedal to the metal while maintaining a strong melodic sensibility. For Star Party, he writes the songs, while Brennan pours sugar in the fuel tank with her airy voice, brightening the band’s buzzsaw sound. It’s a formula that works beautifully, and Star Party seems to know it; eight of Meadow Flower’s nine tracks start with a blast of squealing feedback and distorted guitar, followed by apeshit drums and vocals that sound like a ‘60s girl group entranced by the charms of psychedelic garage rock.
If there’s a thematic thread running through Meadow Flower, it’s the persistent frustration that pervades everyday life. On “Living A Lie” Brennan takes aim at an exhausting energy vampire over speedy thrash-pop. “You used to be a sanctuary,” she sings, “now you’re just a parasite.”’ On the record’s catchiest song “Push You Aside” she delivers a scathing send-off to an overbearing suitor. Elsewhere, she targets ennui and stagnation (“Shot Down”), insecurity (“A Trip Home”), and self-centered assholes (“No Excuse”). In each and every case, Brennan delivers her lines with a smile, but her contempt is accentuated by Star Party’s fluent juxtaposition of sweet and sour sounds.