Zachery Allan Starkey is a one-of-a-kind presence on the New York art-pop scene. A far cry from the Lady Gaga images that tag conjures, Starkey’s sound stems from an organic reading of the left-leaning alternative edge of the Eighties; fusing PiL, Soft Cell and Human League into a more groove-based root of LCD Soundsystem, and coming out the other end with an acerbic, goth-spiked slew all his own.
The songwriter’s obsession with the perfection of his craft has led to a certain hermetically-sealed package of a darkly-doomed past, digitally updated to our even more paranoid times. Starkey’s cute Robert Smith/Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis looks, Phil Oakey up-combed shock-black hair, and visual control over every aspect of his visual and sonic presentation results in a retro-styled present day agit-pop dynamism, culminating in his own idiosyncratic design.
Via enormous, unapologetically processed synths, Starkey brings the noise in a most unexpected way. On “Into The Sun,” written about his grandfather being killed by a drunk-driver, his sensitivity is brought to the surface (Bauhaus’ Pete Murphy being the most effective touchstone here). Leather-clad as always, heavily eye-linered and ruminating on past pain, Zachery roams the backstreets of NY, looking for a connection to the past he knows will not reignite, but will never give up on either. All with Martin Gore plinking away on a Casio keyboard straight out of 1984 behind him.
In the era where Depeche Mode and A Flock Of Seagulls were harvesting the millions from record deals and enormo-tours, the idea of decrying ‘we’re all f*****’ to Wall Street would have been unthinkable – biting the hand, indeed. Zachery Allen Starkey, through his DIY aesthetic and, yes, socialistic approach to music and its community, turns this on its head. He has taken the sound that made Reagan’s generation rich, soaked it in his own past, and thrown it with disgust into the faces of the money men.
By Sean Bw Parker
Photo Courtesy of Star Akiyama