July 5th, 1961 is reminiscent of exactly that: a return to gritty ‘60s Britpop, sprinkled with a dash of B-52’s overtones. The Eastern Stars are a Brooklyn-based duo who are truly onto something. The male/female dueling vocal melodies create a creepy retro feel – I mean “creepy” in a good way – comparable to Said Sadly by The Smashing Pumpkins (Iha/Gordon). The instrumentation is simple but well thought out, and – while metaphorical – the lyrics are believable.
The first two tracks on the album (They Know What To Do and Lovely Love) are primarily acoustic. From that point on, however, the album begins to define itself through programmed beats, light distortions, and gentle feedback while still keeping a rugged pop feel. The band thrive on keeping listeners on their toes, as you never know who’s singing the next line or what the next song holds. Little Punk is my favorite: it blends soothing programmed rhythms with the sounds of early B-52’s.
The band are not trying to be something they’re not, which on some songs creates minor flaws. I found myself at times wanting a fuller sound, as certain tracks felt stripped down and bare. But I’m sure such an approach can be used as a blank canvas toward evolution on future albums.
I would recommend this record to anyone who likes creative, semi-experimental music. It is fun, meaningful music that you won’t hear on MTV. The Eastern Stars most likely will never become stars at all, but I’m sure we’re all okay with that.