Never, ever, ever in the history of the WORLD, has lo-fi depression sounded so good. Honestly, Booksmart sound sadder than a Morrissey after the death of his 52nd cat, Mr Jingles. The acoustic guitar weeping mixed with the not-shit sounding ballads and the occasional bursts of frenetic energy mean that listening to ‘No Stars Tonight’ is going to make your emotions swing between Elmo-just-got-cancer sadness and ascending-Mount-Everest elation.
The songs of ‘No Stars Tonight’ are so fucking delicate and short, that if you’re not paying attention , the entire album will just flash before your eyes. And that’s a damn fucking shame, because then you’ll miss out on the quietly awesome ‘My Marie’ and ‘Requiem’. The former marries romantic vocabulary with distant musicianship, creating an atmosphere of forlornness that’s like a lost kitten’s eyes-fucking heartbreaking. ‘Requiem’ takes it a step further and ends up like the opposite of something called ‘Requiem’ should be, namely it’s not epic at all. Think about it: ‘Requiem For a Dying Dream, ‘Requiem’ by Killing Joke, the Requiem Mass, or the Mass for the Dead-all severely epic things. Booksmart’s ‘Reqiuem’ subverts that, and shows off a plain and ordinary side that uncovers a whole new concept of how something called ‘Requiem’ can be awesome.
Don’t think it’s all lo-fi gloom on this record however, as there are spurts of energy that ensure the album doesn’t become a monotonal disaster. ‘Runaway’ brings a little bass funk to the mix, injecting some flavour early on the record. You know once a song starts with the lyric ‘The boys are back in town’ it’s going to be a good song. Even if the lyric is delivered in a cautiously sighing tone, and is meant as more of a downer lyric than a call to arms. ‘Sleepwalking’ also re-invigorates the record after some sadder-than-the-crying-Indian tracks like ‘Madison’ and ‘Still Life’, adding some electric guitar and heavy bass to the mix to snap the listener awake like a rubber band to a sleeping nutsack.
For a lo-fi effort, ‘No Stars Tonight’ is pretty great. For the most part, it’s a chilled out affair, but the aspects of the record which show off the heart-on-a-sleeve aesthetic, (you know, the kind of thing that made Elliot Smith famous) is what brings this record to a whole new tier of great.
Ben Wiley (the guy behind Booksmart) is a genius, and ‘No Stars Tonight’ is awesome, which is why you should go onto his Bandcamp here and pick up the record for ‘name-your-price’.