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Song You Need to Know: Astrals, ‘The Stardust Years’

A single many months in the making, “The Stardust Years” sees Astrals delivering a unifying experience following months spent on hold.

A few months on from the release of her latest single, Sydney Sydney songwriter and performer Astrals has returned with her new track, the stunning “The Stardust Years”.

A staple of the Aussie music scene for a few years now, Astrals (that is, the musical moniker of Claire Simpson) has spent her time carving out a niche for herself as a rather unique performer, drawing upon pop and garage rock influences to craft a mesmerising sound which she likes to “the sonic form of a child’s drawing on a refrigerator door”.

Having last released a new tune by way of May’s “Infinity Room”, it goes without saying that dedicated fans have been eager to hear new music from the acclaimed performer. Now, the wait is over thanks to “The Stardust Years”, which officially releases this Thursday.

Equal parts ’90s rock nostalgia and indie pop, the slick track underlines Simpson’s powerful voice and the strength of the track’s mesmerising melodies as slow-burning guitar lines give way to big choruses. As Astrals explains, there was a rather concerted effort to give the single an almost cathartic edge to it; one that helps to unify those listening following the craziness of the previous years.

“It’s been a weird and isolating past two years for a lot of us,” she notes. “So something I really wanted for this song was to create a sort of anthemic quality, like lots of voices were singing in the chorus.

“So, I got some mates to sing with me in the choruses and outro. Sort of a way to have a collective feel, in the absence of real life interaction. This is also the first song I’ve ever used sax on, some string sounds in there as well. Kind of a Springsteen meets dream-pop hybrid.”

Undeniably, this new step forward was one that worked, with a newfound level of confidence sitting front and centre. Recorded at Sydney’s Free Energy Device Studios, the track soon found itself held up somewhat, waiting some time for the mixing and mastering processes (from Julia Goyen and Tahlia Rose Coleman, respectively) to take place due to the complexities of these past six months.

“I recorded the song in May of this year. But lockdown happened, and I couldn’t get into Sydney,” Astrals continues. “So I had to wait for the mixing to begin, and I had a couple more things to record, thinking I’d be there in person for it. But the weeks kept passing, so me and Jules, the engineer, worked out a way to do the rest online.

“There were some positives that came with the delay though. I had a fair bit of time to think about what I wanted it to sound like. The sax came about as a bi-product of the extra mulling-over time. And luckily Jules could play sax, so she was able to just record herself. She’s a champ.”

Alongside the track’s audio, Astrals has also paired it with a music video that feels as comforting as it does nostalgic. Working with director Benjamin Ling, it’s described as an ode to Sydney from the perspective of a young musician recording a video diary, with the clip itself being shot back in May.

“I had been feeling sentimental about Sydney at the time it was filmed,” explains Astrals. “I’d get a whole lot more sentimental about Sydney in the coming months. And not just Sydney, but friends, nights out, margaritas, driving around, and playing music with other people.

“So that’s what I wanted the video to be; a token of my appreciation for ‘the stardust years’, so to speak.”

An indicator of the sort of strength that an artist such as Astrals possesses, and an example of the resilience needed to release music in a time such as this, “The Stardust Years” is undeniably an instant classic thanks to its cathartic sound, eclectic instrumentation, and incredibly catchy songwriting. Check it out above ahead of its official release this week; you won’t regret it.

Astrals’ “The Stardust Years” is officially released on Thursday, November 25th.