Crushed Stars have been at it for more than a decade now but, in a recent chat with Todd Gautreau, the head and the heart of the project tells me that the Crushed Stars moniker may be nearing an end.  On January 21st Gautreau and crew (Jeff Ryan, Hillary Whitehead, and Jay Allen, who lend accompaniment on the occasional track.) will release Farewell Young Lovers, an album that sees Gautreau exploring a variety of new sounds, in addition to the kind of shoegaze he’s become known for.  The songs of Farewell Young Lovers are more stripped and less polished, but also more energetic than most of the project’s previous work.  I recently got a chance to chat with Gautreau about where Crushed Stars have been and might be headed, in addition to what else is going on in his musical world.

Izzy Cihak: 2013 is nearing an end.  What have been your personal highlights of the year, whether relating to Crushed Stars or not?

Todd Gautreau: I spent most of the year recording, first Sonogram’s How We Saw Tomorrow, then Crushed Stars. So the highlight was just getting and staying inspired enough to keep working. That’s not always easy. I bought a Fender Jaguar, which I used to write all the songs. I read a lot of great books.

IC: You’re about to release Farewell Young Lovers in early 2014.  How do you feel the album compares to previous releases?

TG: I felt the creative process was more direct this time. The songs are more straightforward. There was less time spent on effects and atmosphere because the songs had a different kind of energy to them. “Flowerbomb” and “Haters” have more grit than we usually apply. Some of the arrangements were more aggressive. We recorded in a different studio, in half our usual time, so that may have lent a sense of urgency as well. It’s probably more diverse than the last record, which had lots of dreamy guitars, but most of these songs didn’t call for that. This record just feels more refined.

IC: What were the album’s most significant influences?

TG: We introduce new things like more synths and electronic percussion with this record that we’ll likely further explore next time. It occurred to me that the result of that exploration may mean the next one is no longer a Crushed Stars record. That’s why I think there’s a theme of departure, saying goodbye, hints of moving on from our established ways of doing things.

IC: Do you have a particular favorite album track, or one which you think best represents where your sounds may be headed in the future.  I’m really loving “Fantastic Birds,” which reminds me of the best kind of shoegaze, that might have soundtracked the credit sequence to an early Gregg Araki film (although that could probably be said of numerous tracks).

TG: Yeah, I believe “Fantastic Birds” was the first one written for this record and is most typical of the sound we are usually associated with. I love doing songs like that, with layers of guitars, but I have done a lot of those, so it was fun doing new things, like having the Theremin on the otherwise stripped-down “Fly” or the punk aesthetic of the guitars on “Haters.” I have different favorites on different days.

IC: In addition to Farewell Young Lovers, what is in store for 2014?

TD: We may accelerate our live performance schedule next year. Then again, we may not. Once I get comfortable in the studio I don’t like to come out.  I am pretty far into the next Sonogram record, which should be released around April.