Count Yer Lucky Stars, Atlanta-based psychedelic pop band Gringo Star’s first full-length album, continues the group’s amalgamation of classic pop and Latin elements heard on its debut self-titled EP. In almost every way, though, Count Yer Lucky Stars is bolder and tighter than its predecessor—it’s the sound of a band further developing a style that suits it, expanding upon its initial template and establishing the quartet’s unique musical voice.
Gringo Star is composed of brothers Nick and Peter Furgiuele along with Pete DeLorenzo and Christopher Kaufmann, all of whom are talented multi-instrumentalists. As a group, they eschew the traditional concept of fixed instrumental roles in favor of trading responsibilities from song to song, often rotating between vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion. The result is an ever-shifting, chameleonic ensemble whose musical palette mutates as much as their individual roles.
The Furgiuele brothers, the main songwriters, display a knack for tightly wound pop melodies and layered harmonies that recall at various points everything from The Beatles to Elvis Costello to post-punk to salsa. Leadoff songs “Shadow” and “You Want It” are crammed with catchy hooks and energetic riffs, starting Count Yer Lucky Stars with serious punch. As the album unfolds, Gringo Star rarely retreats from accessible melodies and concise pop structures — the most the band allows itself to stretch out is on the DeLorenzo-penned “Esmarelda,” a slow-burning, Doors-esque highlight with a heavily Latin-flavored groove that also appeared on their first EP. While the streamlined nature of most of the songs gives Gringo Star a definite professional polish, it’s somewhat a shame they don’t cut loose more often and display their exploratory, psychedelic side as they do on “Esmarelda.”
Flashes of Gringo Star’s psychedelic flair occur elsewhere, namely in “Got It,” “Mexican Coma” and “Come Alive,” which add greatly to the overall sonic texture of the album. Still, the surreal elements serve mainly as coloration to the pop, which dominates throughout — the jaunty “Jessica” in particular is the most straightforward, refreshingly immediate tune of the collection. The guys in Gringo Star have the chops to push their sound further into the ether should they want to, but they’re in no rush to overdo things. As such, Count Yer Lucky Stars is the sound of a band fleshing out its stylistic blueprint and honing its songcraft, marking a gradual yet confident sonic evolution.