“Middle of Nowhere, Center of Bounce”

The Starlight Mints want to make you uneasy. I doubt they’d make any bones about that. Piling chord upon chord at the introduction of “Coffins ‘r’ Us,” which is nervous-chuckle-inducing enough, given the title, but spooky nonetheless even with just hearing the song as something anonymous, they rage into uncharted territories of the mind’s threshold for tension.
If the whole album were tense, though, Change Remains, their last release, that is, they wouldn’t be worth writing about. “Zoomba,” for instance, track 04, is a gleeful romp about murder and death. In being this, though, the music, ironically, rather than being vainglorious or overstated in any way, is utterly hypnotic, bringing the listener in to friendly textures, while at the same time being hip, full of a bouncy, sonically big drum beat that takes the forefront, all synthesized and effected on up. Hey, there was a band in the town of Indiana University, Bloomington, that is, where I got my BA, by the name of Murder By Death.
Related to this is exhibit B in the case of the Mints deliberately attempting to make you uneasy: motive. They’re from a different podunk state, you see, Oklahoma. You might ask why this would give someone the intention of freaking out listeners.
Oklahoma, as it were, has the privilege of being the butt of the jokes of not one but two nearby states — Texas and Colorado. And I quoth my cousin from Texas, “Everyone from Oklahoma is, like, so dumb.” I didn’t get the explicit sense that she was being facetious. Either way, the situation would have been more enjoyable if she would have gotten one of those buckets of green slime dumped on her after saying this, the kind they used to have on those Nickelodeon game shows.
My Colorado experience of Oklahoma-hating is opposite this — I had a professor who hailed from the latter lodged firmly in the former — teaching post-bac teacher ed in Denver with a Southern accent that was a little different, a little more western than your average Southern. He, too, accounted of how Oklahomans get brash generalizations thrown at them, for just the reasons you’d think.
And the Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma too, and they’re certainly weird, just like the Mints, but in the case of the latter, refreshingly, the music comes devoid of bombast, excessive emotional self-indulgence, and gratuitous personal baggage. The Mints’ stuff is swathed in a cool sarcasm, and they come across as a band that could be from Brooklyn. Yes, that’s a compliment. There, I’m trying to piss them off so they put out another album already.

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