Greta Van Fleet are back with their third studio album Starcatcher—and this time, the four-piece set out to create a place all their own. The album’s title, expansive sound and lyrics about fate and legend convey this well enough, but drummer Danny Wagner also said as much in press materials for Starcatcher, which Dave Cobb produced. “We had this idea that we wanted to tell these stories to build a universe,” Wagner said. “We wanted to introduce characters and motifs and these ideas that would come about here and there throughout our careers through this world.”
Out July 21 on Lava/Republic Records, the 10-track album from Wagner and the Kiszka brothers—lead singer Josh, guitarist Jake and bassist/keyboardist Sam—follows 2021’s The Battle at Garden’s Gate and the group’s 2018 first full-length album Anthem of the Peaceful Army. Greta Van Fleet remain polarizing a half-decade after they were accused of ripping off Led Zeppelin’s sound and style on their debut, but opinions are shifting as new fans warm to the band’s earnestness and musical prowess. Sure, listening to Greta Van Fleet feels like hopping into a time machine and landing in the middle of a 1970s rock concert. But what’s so bad about that?
It’s easy to compare a modern rock band to its obvious influences. In Greta Van Fleet’s case, comparisons to Led Zeppelin have been drawn for years due to their grandiose lyrics, big sound, vocals and even the clothing they wear onstage. While Greta Van Fleet have listed bands like Cream and Bad Company alongside current bands like The Black Keys and Rival Sons as influences, the soaring vocals on Starcatcher’s opening track, “Fate of the Faithful,” bring the Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant parallels roaring back. “We fought for the faithful,” Josh Kiszka sings, his voice jumping to a powerful shriek mid-line before dropping to continue the verse: “But instead we burned.”
“Fate of the Faithful” starts the album off at a run, but the band takes a bit of a breather for the contemplative second track, “Waited All Your Life,” before resuming full-steam-ahead mode on “The Falling Sky,” a track that accentuates its driving momentum with harmonica accents two minutes in.
“Sacred the Thread” and “Farewell for Now,” two of four tracks unveiled ahead of Starcatcher’s official release, operate at slower speeds but feature the kind of structure and vocals that bring a Feral Roots-era Rival Sons to mind. Between the two is Starcatcher’s shortest track, the aptly titled “Runway Blues,” on which Greta Van Fleet seem to have a blast speeding through the song’s 77-second run.
While the album’s first half seems to be its strongest, penultimate track “Meeting the Master” feels like the place where Greta Van Fleet found the new universe they were searching for. Josh Kiszka’s vocals are smooth as “Meeting the Master” kicks off but erupt in a vibrato as Wagner and the Kiszka brothers build to a collective crescendo. It’s the album’s anthem, one likely to become a crowd favorite when the band launches their Starcatcher world tour in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 24.
Starcatcher as a whole is splashy and urgent, a fitting addition to the sultry summer season into which it’s being launched. It’s likely to make Greta Van Fleet fans eager to see what the band will do next.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Fate of the Faithful
– Waited All Your Life
– Sacred the Thread
– Runway Blues
The Big Hit
– Meeting the Master
Buy the album: Amazon