Helicopter Helicopter – By Starlight (2001)

Helicopter Helicopter
By Starlight

By the time Helicopter Helicopter released their third album, By Starlight, the band had completed their transformation from noisy bards of society’s underbelly to full on power pop poets. The opening track, “And Just Once,” makes sure you know this straight away. The production is slick, the boy/girl harmonies are spot on and the songs are ridiculously catchy.

By Starlight parades out one potential hit after another. The first six songs on the record all sound like singles. The last of that batch is “Passing Car,” where Chris Zerby and Julie Chadwick effortlessly trade vocal lines. “Slow Dying Flashlight” settles into the 7th spot, giving the listener a dark respite before the sing along resumes with “History Of Space Flight.”

Despite the drastic stylistic shift from their previous work, By Starlight still maintains many of the trademark Helicopter Helicopter characteristics. The verses of “The Afterworld” are as ominous as anything that came before it. Helicopter Helicopter’s lyrics still aren’t your standard power pop fare. In fact, the contrast between the ultra catchy melodies and the dark themes works well. There are still outbursts of noise. This time around they are shaped and controlled, manicured to fit into the mix. Make no mistake, though. This is a power pop record – and a damn good one at that.

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