By Jacqueline Sun
Remix albums, much like cover or tribute albums, are a risky business. At worst, they are a blatant money grabs, treating fans as fools and at best, they can be transcendent pieces on their own. STRFKR’s Being No One, Going Nowhere (REMIXES) runs somewhere in the middle. As someone who enjoyed the original album, I found the remix album to be enjoyable as well, though in a superficial, derivative way. If you are a STRFKR fan to begin with as well, you’ll likely enjoy the remixes. The artists chosen to remix the album – Lindstrøm, Juan Maclean, Chrome Sparks, among others – are mind-bogglingly appropriate choices; they are such natural and obvious combinations that the only surprise here is that it’s taken this long to happen. But because the remixers are in the same realm as STRFKR themselves, Being No One, Going Nowhere (Remixes) isn’t here to change anyone’s mind about the initial release. Unimpressed listeners of the first album will remain unimpressed with the remixed versions.
STRFKR’s ethos has always been danceable, upbeat, synthpop since its early days of being named “Starfucker.” The remixes retain these aspects that aspect and so in that sense, is a success. However, when the two albums achieve essentially the same effect, there is little to say about the inventiveness of the remixes or even why the existence of such a remix album is justified. So the biggest downfall of this record, for the most part, is that it doesn’t give us a strong reason to listen to it over the first release.
Some of the cuts even threaten to be worse than the source. Geographer transforms “Maps” from a spacey, synthy slowjam to a generic club mix. Perhaps the greatest affront is Chrome Sparks’ remix of “Open Your Eyes,” which sucks out all the original’s new wave goodness and replaces it with an overwrought, overproduced electronic cut devoid of any momentum or fun. Some songs follow the standard remix formula of altering the rhythm, amping the bass, and sampling the verses. “Never Ever (Ghosts of Venice remix)” essentially lifts the chorus from STRFKR and puts in a funky guitar; Juan Maclean takes the drum pattern of “When I’m With You,” and loops it for two minutes longer. They are not unwelcome changes, but one does wonder what the point is.
That isn’t to say that some remixes aren’t inspired, though. The most effective tracks are ones in which the artist has added their own distinctive style, changing the song into something that would fit into their own discography. Lindstrøm gives “Something Ain’t Right” a full space disco makeover, altering the STRFKR’s four-minute tune into a twice as long galactic bop; Pixelated updates “Dark Days” into a nu-disco dream that meshes organically with the original. “In the End (Filterkat remix)” is a Justice-style, French electro refresh that just works. “Satellite (Blake Parsons)” starts with a slow build and spacey sound effects, then transitions into a sublime guitar line that sounds inspired from the stars themselves. The remix is groovier, punchier, but still respects the source material. These tunes preserve the essence of STRFKR but aren’t redundant. Instead, they are thoughtful re-imaginings of the originals, allowing the listener to appreciate both the versions so much more. In the end, none of the tracks are essential, even for die-hard STRFKR fans, but it’s a satisfactory set that warrants a listen for anyone interested in hearing these tunes in a different context.