Josh Hodges never dreamed his once “novelty” project, STRFKR, would gain enough momentum and popularity for him to still be releasing albums nine years after his debut in 2007. Yet, now on his fourth album, Being No One, Going Nowhere, Hodges has elevated his music writing to a personal zenith. This latest album combines retro sounds that include italo-disco and new wave hooks with gravitated lyrics and darker themes- the result is one of the most intriguing and deeply layered indie-electro albums of recent memory.
The stark departure from STRFKR’s last 2013 album, Miracle Mile, is evident from the first track “Tape Machine” which uses astral synths and cosmic electronica to create infectious hooks that loop you into Hodges world. “Satellite” follows with its deep pulsating bass line and slacker vocals that coalesce into one of the album’s first new singles. “Never Ever” keeps the hits rolling and brims with elated energy while leaning into an ear-worm of a chorus.
A sign of brilliance on any album is when you find yourself constantly shifting your allegiance to your ‘favorite song’. “Something Aint Right” originally began as a chosen favorite because of its electro-gothic 80’s feel and catchy emotive lyrics. Yet, “Open your Eyes”, which follows right after has a subtle build that shimmers into effervescent bliss, while teetering on a dance-party precipice.
Hodges lets his philosophical flag fly on “Interspace” where English writer Alan Watts is featured waxing his ideas on existentialism, before the anxiety riddled “In The End” explodes into a dance-centric anthem. “Maps” sounds like it could have been a hidden track off of the famous outrunner Drive soundtrack, while “When I’m With You” brings house and tropicalia influences and “Dark Days” becomes another dance-pop explosion. The album brilliantly concludes with the album-titled track, “Being No One, Going Nowhere” with its ominous vibe and cold, dark lyrics.
The balance of uplifting pop hooks mixed with portentous and weighted lyrics brings a new dynamic to STRFKR that was not as pronounced on previous efforts. Hodges has always claimed he wanted to create “Dance music that you can actually listen to, that’s good pop songs, but also you can dance to it.” He has achieved the electro-pop likeability of groups like Classixx, M83, or Phoenix while maintaining a deeper dark edge, and Being No One, Going Nowhere is proof that Hodges well of wisdom and talent runs deep.