If Dayton, Ohio's Lab Partners prove anything with their first long-player, Daystar, it's that injecting some power-pop sensibilities into space-rock produces some very fine results. Despite their stratospheric inclinations, they are at their core great pop writers who share a surprising amount in common with Fountains of Wayne, pulling one lush nugget after another from what seems like an inexhaustible supply. Cross this with Coldplay's grounded sonic experimentalism and Brian Eno's ambience and you have a pretty fair idea of what Lab Partners sound like. Over the course of Daystar, they fall just short of being truly distinctive, and it would be nice if their harmonic and rhythmic capacities came closer to their gift for finely-sculpted melodies, but other bands have succeeded wildly with much less than is on display here. Besides, it's hard to complain too much with such a fine collection of ingratiating songs. Not everyone who buys Daystar will rush out and form a band, certainly, but only the most fossilized snob could resist extending their thumb skyward when it starts radiating from their speakers.

- Brian James

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