Album Review: STRFKR’s ‘Being No One, Going Nowhere’

Lila Miller, A&E Editor

STRFKR band members from their Facebook page, Accessed Nov. 15, 2016

Long-time indie, dream-pop band, STRFKR is no stranger to music making dance tunes for the masses of the indie sub-culture. Some may have heard their danceable cover of Cyndi Laupers Girls just want to have funon a previous album, or their songs featured in various ads and films.

What started as a solo project by Joshua Hodges, of Portland, Oregon in 2007, has spiraled into the four-piece band many love today. Other members of STRFKR include Shawn Glassford, Keil Cocoran, and Patrick Morris. All members of the band play some semblance of keyboard(s), drums, guitar, and vocals.

Hodges and his crew create fun, indie dance tunes, but their lyrics are anything but sweet. Much like popular female singer, Grimes, STRFKR creates dance tunes juxtaposed over heavy lyrics. This album of theirs, as well as their others, draw influences from themes of death, the sense of self, and eastern philosophy.

Hodges and his band rely heavily on synth sounds, atari-like melodies, as well as upbeat piano, guitar, and higher-octave voice. Some of their songs also splice in excerpts of lecture from british writer, philosopher, and translator, Alan Watts. Watts was perhaps most known for his translations of Buddhist and western philosophy to make it more accessible and understood by eastern culture.

“Being No One, Going Nowhereseems to pick up where their last album Miracle Mileleft off. Their previous album, while employing danceable music, included deep lyrics alluding to fearing death and what is to come. Being No One, Going Nowhereis a real growing point for Hodges, and the rest of the band. While their signature use of various synths, 80s-inspired dance riffs, and simple piano sequences keep crowds dancing, it is also music that can merely be listened to.

Hodges mainly wrote most of the album, traveling around Joshua Tree, trying to understand a mix of identity and personality. Being No One, Going Nowherealludes to conquering the fear of death, as well as exploring the meaning of a deeper sense of self for Hodges, who writes most of the lyrics for STRFKR.

The sounds within the album are reminiscent of getting lost in an upbeat version of the cosmos, while a faceless nihilist philosopher croons down instructions.

In the first track on the album titled tape machineHodges questions the human nature of an old lover, asking, was this trouble your nature/ why cant you shake it/ even like this.The album continues to be upbeat but begins to get darker in the second half, in what feels like a love song in when Im with youHodges muses all that I wanted was already alive/ What does it mean then to be yourself?I become a devil when Im with you/ Dance around my shadow.”

The closer and title-track of the album, Being no one, going nowhereends the album in a solipsist manner, reminiscent of a theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. In the four minute ending song, against a soundscape of cosmic synth, piano, and melody, Hodges repeats six times, You’re alright where you are/Being no one/Going nowhere.

STRFKRs Being No One Going Nowherereleased everywhere Nov. 4, 2017 under Polyvinyl records and can be found at most record stores, as well as on Spotify.