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(Morr Music)

While it never completely went away, it seems like shoegazer music has been on a big upswing lately. While all the garage rock kids have been snagging the headlines, tons of other bands have churned out their odes to Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, and Guitar is the latest in the line of them, albeit with a slight update on the sound. Having made their debut on the Blue Skied An' Clear compilation that came out a couple months back on Morr Music, the group is now back with their full-length release on the same label, and it's more of the same.

Actually, calling Guitar a group is probably stretching it a bit, as it all seems to be the work of one person who simply calls themselves "Digital Jockey," while vocals are contributed alternately by Ayako Akashiba and Regina Janssen. In terms of sheer production, Starkissed absolutely glistens. Layers and layers of guitars, both forwards and backwards, swoop and sweep over one another in gorgeous washes while chunky beats bump away in the background and downright twee vocals float over it all.

That said, it's also one of those releases that really fails to stick much, even after listening to it several times. Tracks such as the album-titled opener of "Sunkissed" and "See Sea, See And Me" both have immaculate production and programming, but the washes of guitars combined with the babble-speak girly vocals of Akashiba (which make it sound like shoegazer mixed with Japanese pop) just sort of turn into a sugary goo. Not only that, but the former runs over 6 minutes long, looping the same sounds over and over again without any real urgency.

Even though it's the longest track on the release by far, it's actually the instrumental of "Hot Sun Trail" that marks one of the high spots on the disc. Opening with some ambient washes and the slow chug of a train, it eventually morphs into a beautiful maelstrom of swirling guitars and a downright dancey beat. Musically, it's not a lot different than some of the other tracks on the release, but without the vocals it's allowed to breath a bit more and the subtleties of the tracks come shining through. Considering that one of 2 tracks of the 8 are different versions of the same one (and one of the tracks has already been released elsewhere), it may feel more like an EP than a full release to some. While it fits in alongside the rest of the Morr roster, it's one of the less-invigorating releases that I've heard from the label.

Rating: 5.25