It’s unsettling, given the posture of Half Machine Records’ admittedly small back catalogue, that the imprint’s latest release should be a cover of a song originally recorded by a Beegees side-project. If anything, this version of '_Toast & Marmalade for Tea' sounds even more desperate for a hug than Tin Tin's; arms out, the track that opens the debut UK release from Stardeath & White Dwarfs totters like a snot-besieged small-brain struggling to communicate with its carer, sated only when it’s gathered up for a ride on a shoulder to the garden section of B&Q.
Ah, press release – Dennis Coyne was sired by uncle Wayne’s brother? Who also did the artwork? That opening paragraph could have made so much more sense. No matter – the trio have been making music in Oklahoma City since 2004 and if the first of two A sides sounds like them trying to reclaim parentage and cause a rift in the family then the second forgets all that as fickle as puberty, rejecting Flaming Lips/Clangers pop for the misanthropic tendencies that characterise Half Machine’s output so far (MIT, Theoretical Girl). Opening with a lonely ESG-esque bass lope, whispering voices team with proto-punk guitar scratch to haunt ‘Chemical’, which climaxes in a premature mess of banjo strings and sated panting.
As an introduction to Stardeath & White Dwarfs this EP attempts to give us a potted life story when a simple “hello” would have sufficed, but what eventually arrives here is neat and tidy enough to hold attentions long enough for the taste of marmalade to disappear.