It seems as if everyone has a bedroom-recording-style side project these days. Add to the mix Derrick Brown, onetime John Wilkes Kissing Booth frontman, self-professed poet and bike pro—and now songsmith of All Black Cinema. Brown takes center stage on the band's It's Like Stars Hitting Ice, coming off almost like Morrissey stripped of the accent and the self-aggrandizing pomp. Appropriate, too, since Brown describes the band's sound as music for "born again virgins" and "throbbing sissies." We all know that Morrissey would be nowhere today if it weren't for the celibacy. For the most part, It's Like Stars Hitting Ice is minimal, with lightly plucked guitar lines and faint electronic swells floating behind Brown's voice. It would probably be described by most as "lush" and "atmospheric," and that would all be true to some extent, but the songs seems to rely on Brown almost too much, hoping that his voice will simply carry the album. Sometimes yes ("How to Kill Your Writing"). Sometimes no ("Classical"). Brown and All Black Cinema are best-served when they let loose, when they cut the lines of overwrought emotion and quiet songwriting and play honest indie rock songs like "The Devil Is Driving Me From Hell to Long Beach." It's too bad that doesn't happen enough.
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