Ah, the sophomore album – that crucial step in a band’s output in which the musicians attempt to solidify and expand upon the strengths of the debut. Listening to Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars, it would seem that Technophobia has managed to do just that, as the Washington, DC duo of Steve and Katie Petix present a solid helping of their own blend of melodic electro-pop and darkly synthetic ambience. Although the harsher industrial elements are somewhat muted this time around, the greater emphasis on songwriting that was a key factor in the band’s 2016 Flicker Out album once again ensures that every track on this record is prime single material. The opening “Rattle In Your Chest” served as the first indication as the song serves up layers of robust synth bass and Katie’s luxuriant vocal harmonies set to straightforward but punchy drumbeats, laying out the formula for the record as a whole. Songs like “As Long As Earth Meets Sky” and “Tied Up In You” take the slower approach, the rhythms steadily insinuating themselves through the speakers as the brooding pace allows for the vibrant atmosphere to take hold, the latter track especially potent as it adds a piano for an added gothic flair. On the other hand, “One Spark” and “Silent Sailor” resonate with pulsating and trickling synth loops and melodic phrases that are sure to get stuck in many listeners’ heads, recalling the metallic industrial/pop of Construction Time Again era Depeche Mode. The same can be said of “Follow Me Down,” although its arpeggios have a more decidedly ‘90s techno feel, while “Unsettled” is almost akin to synthwave as the metallic percussive fills add to the upbeat track. Of course, where Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars shines best is in the poignancy of the lyrics and Katie’s masterful vocal delivery, the brevity of the songs making for a sharply focused set that stands up to repeated listening; some tracks could have benefitted from a heartier or perhaps more distorted buildup in the choruses, but this is a minor issue that is perhaps remedied in the live environment where Technophobia excels.