Album Review: Expert Timing — ‘Stargazing’

Posted: by The Editor

expert timing band

On their perpetually peppy and deeply endearing second LP Stargazing, the Orlando pop-rockers in Expert Timing turn existential pain and personal dread into foot-tapping, body-moving bursts of energy. Fronted by duo Katrina and Jeff Snyder, the endlessly fun songs on Stargazing feel like invitations to dance away the uncertainty — at their best, this band makes it feel like such a thing is possible. 

Expert Timing clearly know how to write a bouncy and memorable hook and Stargazing is brimming with them. Katrina Snyder’s cyclical, deliberate chorus on “Autonomy,” for instance, perfectly crystalizes the song’s concerns of powerlessness (“I’ve been thinking about my own autonomy / is it real or just pretend?”) Here, the melody’s sharp rises and falls are mirrored across the hook’s two parts, giving the track a mechanical feel that matches this notion of getting trapped in someone else’s rhythms. “The Bigger Picture,” meanwhile, presents a bouquet of shifting shout-along moments to match Jeff Snyder’s frayed and conversational vocal style. 

But even more catchy than those vocal melodies are the guitar riffs that undergird them. The kinetic, zig-zagging riff that opens “Special Hell” truly steals the show, that bendy, unmoored guitar setting the scene for a song about the constant obstacles to keeping yourself grounded. Later, the chiming, airy guitars littered throughout “New Queen” inject a Photo Album aesthetic into a more muscular pop-rock project. And the blippy, aerodynamic sound of the guitars on “Short and Sweet” joins in exceptional unison with Gibron Colbert’s always forceful and emphatic drums for an energizing opening. These guitars fold and twist around sharpened melodies traded between Katrina and Jeff, whose equally beaming and uniformly effervescent songs keep Stargazing light on its feet. 

The off-kilter, bustling spirit of these pop-forward songs puts Stargazing in the company of some of the best and most under-appreciated emo/pop greats — this combination of anthemic with the slightly crooked brings to mind a specific sect of early 2000s Vagrant records like The Anniversary’s Designing a Nervous Breakdown or Hey Mercedes’s Everynight Fire Works. Dig down to the roots of songs like the brawny, staccato “Super Ordinary Unimpressed” or the hand-wringing sugar rush of “The Bigger Picture” and you can find traces of these great bands that yearned to turn the jittery, anxious parts of living into dizzying, feet-off-the-ground rock songs. 

Like these bands, Expert Timing succeed in making songs that give your body the work of expunging the fear and the uneasiness. So throw a party with all your most nervous friends and keep moving until it all feels a little better. 


Jordan Walsh | @jordalsh

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