When arguably the brightest star in mainstream rock music is the drummer-turned-guitarist from a band that ceased to function two decades ago, you know the genre isn’t in a good place. That’s been the story for years, and StarBenders isn’t going to change that. But there’s a quality to the group’s newest single, “Far From Heaven,” something achingly nostalgic, that makes this rock fan stop caring about the future—if only for a moment. It’s exactly the kind of pseudo-modern take on the slick, soulful songwriting tapped by ’70s icons decades ago that demands full attention. Of course, the throwback would’t be complete without a propulsive hook, and StarBenders deliver an earworm straight out of the Stevie Nicks playbook. Simple and emotive, this is the hook that keeps you in the bar, lost in the moment, far past the time to leave.
If reaching back into the past is StarBender’s game for the foreseeable future, there’s going to be plenty of happy Atlantans. No, this isn’t the band or the song to take rock music forward. And no, I don’t think it’s healthy for rock to regurgitate itself year after year. But there’s an irresistible lure in burning down your road to the future, so long as that rose-tinted, guilty look backwards reminds you of how good it used to be.
StarBenders will perform on Wednesday, May 10 at the Earl in support of Shonen Knife. Fellow locals Floral Print open the show. Doors at 8 p.m. Admission is $15. 21+ to enter.