The dark climax of 2005’s Choose Love album, “Free Drinks” glamorizes Starr’s playboy/Arthur-like lifestyle even as the sinister music hints at disaster lurking just around the corner.
Most of Starr’s recent songs have been self-empowerment anthems with a modern retro sound, but one wishes Starr would offer more glimpses into his real existence like this one. (Though presumably the song recalls a period before he and his wife Barbara Bach got sober together.) Boasting about his life of sunbathing by day, blackjack and roulette by night, it shares the specificity of rappers’ lyrics, who Courtney Love once famously compared to Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) for their slavish devotion to listing all brand names. While Starr doesn’t go that far, his snapshot of paintings by Chagall on the wall of his hotel suite with a dress on the floor says it all.
Starr’s voice calls out through a processor like a consciousness once removed through a steady imbibement of any and all intoxicants. Musically, it’s surf rock meets Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks. The reverb, delay, and tremolo also recall the Pulp Fiction soundtrack or a sped-up “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac, while the persistent beat pounds like a guy on a rager with no end in sight. Laughing, Starr sounds as if he is unhinged on absinthe or cracking up in an old black and white film like The Lost Weekend or Reefer Madness.
Starr jets to Spain, hooks up in a disco, then loses the woman, but it doesn’t matter because there’s more everywhere. He shops in Juan Les Pins, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez, and invites girls to stay at his suite in Saint Paul’s Colombe D’or. In the final verse, he wakes up flying in first class, unsure where he is, but who cares? (Though part of him whispers he may be heading for a fall.)