Ron Gallo is well on his way to prolific status with the release of Stardust Birthday Party, a quick follow-up to last year’s Heavy Meta and this year’s Really Nice Guys EP. Gallo has that uncontained energy when you see him perform, like he could combust. Stardust Birthday Party continues on the same garage punk path of ennui as its predecessor, with Gallo digging deeper for the truth in a world he struggles to understand and accept. Gallo’s maniacal vocals and fiery guitar shredding serve his internal chaos well, painting a vivid portrait of a man who sometimes feels like he’s gone mad. However, there is more joy here than on Heavy Meta, where Gallo’s darkness ruled. He seems to be having more fun this time around, which makes Stardust Birthday Party a totally different listen.
Gallo has nailed his sound down over these two records, and he keeps perfecting it. A heady blend of garage rock, grunge, punk, and psychedelic, Gallo and his band create arrangements that elevate his signature unearthly howl. On “'You’ Are the Problem” they dive into swirling, trippy instrumentals, creating a laid-back soundtrack to all your beaded curtain fantasies, even as Gallo delivers a searing take on mental illness and self-destruction. On the punchy psycho-rocker “Do You Love Your Company?” he challenges us to sit with ourselves; to hold up a mirror and ask the toughest question: Do we like ourselves?
There’s no sugar-coating in Gallo’s view of life, but he does have a way of finding the absurd and, more importantly, the fun in self-exploration. “It’s All Gonna Be OK” is a head-banger slice of Americana, ideal for euphorically moshing with friends, drinks sloshing. “Always Elsewhere” is a heart-racing journey inward, where Gallo strives to stay present and meet himself where he is. Gallo may still be figuring things out but watching him do it is a thrill.