When the former bassist of Stars of Track and Field resigned, the remaining members were forced to make a decision that would ultimately shape the future of their band. Rather than hop on Craigslist and find another bassist, they opted to go the digital route, and that was likely their downfall. The digital stylings expressed on Centuries Before Love and War, their debut album, sends them not into a category all their own, but rather lumps them in with a host of other outfits that use electronic backings more as a crutch than a tool for enhancement. Whether the reliance is slight or heavy on any given song, Stars of Track and Field fail to invoke anything other than half-hearted comparisons to other artists, whether they be helpful (Coldplay’s X&Y) or confounding (Stars’ Set Yourself On Fire). In an attempt to sound like a wide cross-section of the current independent scene, Stars of Track and Field end up giving themselves no distinctive sound whatsoever. Indeed, the album’s tone and lyrics seem to be as jagged as the cut-and-paste presentation, and though the effort starts out well with the somewhat ominous opener “Centuries” beckoning to the listener’s attention, the ambient techno powering more than half the album is more likely to induce sleep than inspiration. In their few upbeat tracks that rely more on guitar work than on electronics, including lead single “Movies Of Antarctica,” the band’s music lies somewhere between Radiohead and Mark Kozelek, though their presentation is less inspiring than that combination would be.
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