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57 Stars of The Air Almanac by Stephenhero
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10/10 stephenheroHQ 12th September 2007

UNCUT *** (THREE STARS) Ex-Kitchens Of Distinction’s frontman’s first album in five years. Kitchens Of Distinction was always a terrible name, which may have hampered Patrick Fitzgerald, aka stephenhero’s renown. However, they are currently credited, or blamed according to taste, for influencing everyone from Interpol to Bloc Party. '57 stars of the air almanac' hints variously at U2, Elton John and The Blue Nile in it’s epic, shimmering tones and vapour trails, with Fitzgerald’s vocals unpolished and intense by contrast. Despite his work in film and theatre, it’s his lyrical peregrinations that really add colour to this album. David Stubbs Issue 125 October 2007 (Jimi Hendrix cover, page 108)

10/10 stephenheroHQ 20th August 2007

The Irish Times *** (THREE STARS) Having moved to the solitude of Connemara some years ago, former Kitchens of Distinction frontman Patrick Fitzgerald has found a new home in Manchester, but he's holding on to his Joycean nom de plume. 57 Stars, his fourth and sonically richest album under the Stephen Hero moniker, finds our lonely hero marrying plangent piano lines with big, epic indie beats. You can join the dots back to the dark cabaret of Kurt Weill and the elegiac early work of The Blue Nile, but also to the apocalyptic alt.pop of Editors. Open Blue Skies, Early Astronomy and 58th Star look to the heavens while A Death in June, Oh Frank and Other Men's Flowers search the gutter. There's a theatricality to the tunes, a consequence of Hero's recent dabbling in soundtracking films and plays, which adds a Scott Walker-esque flourish to these songs of doomed hearts and dark imaginings. Kevin Courtney Issue August 17, 2007 (The Ticket)

10/10 stephenheroHQ 4th August 2007

The Times (UK) **** (FOUR STARS) The era of Interpol, Editors and Bloc Party is as good a time as any for Patrick Fitzgerald, aka Stephenhero (one of James Joyce’s leading characters), to release his first album in five years, especially given the fact the that his underrated band Kitchens of Distinction helped to refine the template in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After four solo albums of stripped-down folk, he has gone back to a band sound (self-played except for the drums) based around piano rather than guitar. What he has ended up with is an edgier version of Elton John’s early 1970s albums. Early Astronomy and Oh, Frank recall KoD’s soaring brand of sensitivity, but this subtle and spacious record is one of the year’s finest. Martin Aston Issue August 4-10, 2007 (The Knowledge, page 22)

10/10 stephenheroHQ

MOJO**** (FOUR STARS)Former Kitchens Of Distinction mainman's stellar return.So uncannily do Interpol and Editors recall the signature epic emo-scapes of Kitchens Of Distinction that one readily imagines erstwhile members of that undervalued '80s/'90s south London trio ruminating bitterly on the concept of intellectual copyright. Not singer/bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, however, who has forged a successful new musical identity as a composer for theatre and film, while gradually priming his Stephen Hero alias for great things. 57 stars... is an 'adult' work in the old-fashioned sense, with material as evocative of Stephen Sondheim's opaque psychodramas as any contemporary touchstones. while also gently reclaiming 'his' sound over a mighty opening trio of portentous piano balladry; KoD guitarist Julian Swales contributes trademark iridescent vastness to Early Astronomy. Heartfelt and exotic - closer The Polar Bears sees its protagonist subjected to an ursine dissection - here's proud validation of a most distinctive voice.Keith CameronIssue 166 September 2007 (Rolling Stones cover, page 110)


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