STRFKR, “Reptilians” 10-Year Anniversary Edition

STRFKR
Reptilians 10-Year Anniversary Edition
POLYVINYL
8/10

Originally released in 2011, STRFKR’s second album Reptilians easily earned its place as one of the 2010s’ indie pop favorites. To celebrate 10 years since the album’s release, Reptilians’s remastered deluxe reissue on Polyvinyl includes four bonus tracks and additional artwork by artist Sohale Kevin Darouian in addition to the juicy synth lines, subtle looping, and echo-like vocals familiar to its listeners. This retooling better shapes the album’s motifs of death and apocalypse, and its tribute to frontman Joshua Hodge’s late grandmother. 

Counting the bonus tracks alone, STRFKR proves they can wear many caps. These four additions represent a diminished version of an enthusiasm that animates the rest of the album while highlighting the fluctuating moods of a past and cherished time. However, it’s a time no less impressive—the band is dance magic and synth abundance coupled with Ableton drums and acoustic instrumentation, inhabiting nostalgia in the vein of Passion Pit, Grouplove, M83, and MGMT. Like many prominent indie pop bands surfacing a decade ago, the music felt fit for impermanent nights and youthful rebellion. And, of course, a handful of their songs are seared into our brains as anthems for teen dramas about suburban love and heartbreak. 

Bonus track “Helium Muffin,” an instrumental mosaic, suspends itself somewhere between spin class and vlogger-adventurer-core from the era of Flip camcorders and GoPros—or you could say it’s EDM gone soft. In another conduit, “The Wisdom of Insecurity” is an archetypal example of the group’s skillful dedication to patient looping. A bit like carefully building a house of cards on a shaky table, it’s a respectably lowkey, synth-powered track that keeps on piling on without ever overflowing. There’s rarely a climax, but the track harbors the energy of one by proving it can slowly wind down. What sounds like an accented, synth-generated vibraphone is topped with horns and ghost-like screeches. 

The popularity of this era of music practically seems unscathed because it’s always going to be good upon a revisit. And for one, STRFKR makes music dedicated to a place and time through the replication of some note of familiar feeling.

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