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BPAL Madness!


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About starbrow

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    sexy swapper

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  1. starbrow

    A Tudor House In Moonlight

    Dead Leaves strike again. Here, they are pale, wet things, aquatic in a moldering damp puddle way that is nicely atmospheric. They aren't going super cologne on me. Sage and mahogany are here; they read masculine to my nose in this setting, though pleasantly so. I don't get a strong mint or coffee, but something pleasantly herbal and also a little bit like wet coffee grounds, bitter and bright. There is something stately about these dead leaves. I can believe that they lay scattered in front of an aristocratic household. I think that is the mahogany and ambergris elevating the blend to an elegant, old-fashioned, slightly spooky level. I like that part of it! I kind of wish I could just take the leaves out of it and be left with the rest. I am never going to be about the Dead Leaves I think, but this is one of the more wearable ones I've ever tried. I'm glad I got to try an empty, and might hang on to it just in case I want to drop a decant in there for aging purposes. Not a full bottle upgrade for me, however, this would make a beautiful Weenie-for-Spring to someone who does enjoy that traditional DL line.
  2. starbrow

    Minamoto No Yorimitsu Cuts at the Earth Spider

    Minamoto has dipped in and out of my potential sales pile for years, but last time I was testing it (along with a bunch of other things), I ended up with a patch of skin that I could not stop huffing with amazement, and it turned out to be this one. So it was saved! Now, a more thorough testing. The initial sniff is oblique. Somehow both smooth and bold; masculine; rugged. Dry tobacco and expensive cologne. That translates well onto skin, with a wet stage that goes on like a handsome cowboy. A good balance of sweetness and strength, with individual notes melded over ten years of aging. It's hard to isolate individual notes. It's so interesting how this reads both masculine to my nose and a bit sweetly floral (thanks no doubt to the tobacco flower + bourbon vanilla). I don't smell it and THINK those last two notes, but knowing they're in there, I can see how they contribute a woody, smoky floral presence to the blend. It's surprisingly sexy, picturing it on a man. That softer edge sets it apart from a lot of more aggressive perfumes in the tobacco-woods vein. It even tones down the teak! (Aging has helped with that a ton too, I'm sure!) For me, now, the magic is not quite happening this time. However, I know this WILL be magic on the right skin, and it's an easy decision to let this bottle go and find its rightful wearer! I would wear this while: sauntering through some swinging saloon doors in some impeccably polished boots
  3. starbrow

    The Curator

    The Curator was another one of those "weirdly smells like books" recommendations that I had to pick up. This is surely a blend that time has mellowed, for what could have been a sharp and stabby scent is very mild, cooling and unobtrusive. It reminds me of aftershave in that "cooling, clean, herby" sense. I usually use the word cologne as a bad thing, but in this, aftershave is not a bad thing at all. It hugs the skin closely and gives off a cleanly masculine vibe that I think lots of people would be into, both wearing and smelling. Any and all sharp edges have been smoothed out by time. This is all smoooooth, like a good shave. Does it smell like books? To me, no. The resins are lowkey, the herbs dried and comforting, but the combination doesn't say "books" to my nose. I don't get much incense either, which can often remind me of books for some reason. However, this is a nice herbal blend that gives me toned-down No. 93 Engines or another Phoenix Steamworks, or maybe even Prince Lir. I don't often wear this kind of scent, so my low partial bottle will be moving along, but it's a really nice option if you do enjoy more masculine, smoothly herbal blends. I would wear this while: chatting up a woman on an English train through the countryside in the late 1940s
  4. starbrow

    Bony Moon

    2011 bottle: I acquired this because I heard it was a bookish scent! And indeed, when I was testing it out again today, the first sniff of it reminded me so much of Scholar's Tower, I had to go compare. The cedar is very much the same, lovely and sweet! Bony Moon's sandalwood, the pale bonelike variety, brings an amazingly papery twist to the "old cedar bookshelves" atmosphere. It's fairly quiet and powdery, but has a nice intimate throw for the wearer's pleasure. What are the radiant crisp lunar herbs? No idea! Maybe a bit of rosemary and time? But very dry and very old, like they've lost most of their crackle by now and are mostly dust. And almost assuredly clary sage at the opening? I wish that stuck around longer! Over time, this becomes a mostly sandalwood scent that nevertheless has that wood-pulp smell of fresh paperbacks, with the dusty smell of OLD paperbacks. If you like sandalwood and are looking for a book scent that does NOT have leather in it, Bony Moon could be one to try! I think ultimately while I enjoy it, the sandalwood component - and its similarity to my favorite, Scholar's Tower - means that I just won't wear my bottle as often as I could. I think it will find a new home. I would wear this while: rearranging the books on my bookshelves and dreaming of the days of Scholastic book fairs and Pizza Hut
  5. starbrow

    Joyful Dalliances in the Underworld

    A lot of spiced dried fruit, like this seriously smells like something that would fill up someone's Christmas stocking in 18th century Poland or something. It's very hearty, with a big kick of growly vetiver, but that combo here is not really working for me somehow. I wouldn't have guessed leather, but it is a big beefy vibe of something hard and toothy. I get some booziness - this is a rummy cognac, to me - and the prunyness (totally a word) of dried apricots and cherries, thickly spiced with black pepper and some brown-sugared sweetness. Don't let that last bit fool you; Joyful Dalliances has a bite, and she is here to sink her teeth in. The vetiver never really emerges all silvery like I like it; it's always tied up in that dark, fibrous web of fruits and ferocious spices. Ultimately, I think this is for someone who wants a bit more kick in their fruity blends than I like. This is one big boot-stomping scent, and it reads more like a gothy Yule to me than a Luper. That's super cool to me in theory, but I guess in my actual wearing habits, I like my scents kind of segregated by occasion! Bottle finding a new home, but glad I know what Joyful Dalliances in the Underworld smells like. World domination and regularity. I would wear this scent while: casually flaying my enemies before Christmas dinner.
  6. starbrow

    Zebra Heliconian

    The notes look amazing! I think this is one of the blends where it truly is better to smell first and see how it goes, than to be swayed by what's listed. A sharp bite of herbal greenery (clary sage?) plays with a squeeze of astringency when it goes on wet, then as drydown plays out, the harder edge falls off and suddenly a white plum floral emerges. The perfumy, flowery haze has a softness and femininity that other white florals lack because they're so loud. This one is delicate and dreamy. I am reminded of white musk - it must be the tobacco flower + ambergris - but thankfully this has all the benefits of white musk without the dryer sheet quality. This scent really hugs the skin after the first few minutes, kind of poofing away into nothing. The last stage, a ghostly vetiver, is my favorite, but I also can't smell it unless I put my wrist right up to my nose. This is the pretty, grassy vetiver that is so comforting, that I would just wrap myself in a blanket with if I could, so I definitely wish it would throw big! There are a lot of notes missing in action. Like, most of them. If lemongrass or coconut are usually problems, don't be scared off; I didn't even know they were here. I would expect this perfume to be a lot more resinous from the opium tar, frankincense, and cedar, after aging 10 years, but no, this little butterfly is floral and airy. If you like that kind of scent, I absolutely think Zebra Heliconian is worth exploring past the fierce opening stage (which reminds me a bit of Insects, honestly, I might have to compare?) and seeing if drydown is your cup of tea. Ultimately, I'm thinking this bottle will find a new home because that's not the kind of scent I reach for, but it's very pretty. I would wear this while: caring for my butterfly garden in springtime.
  7. starbrow

    Goatweed Leafwing

    When I first got this bottle, I could barely smell anything. I kind of liked the hint of what I smelled in it, but it was almost like water - nice scented water. Fortunately, I put it in a box and forgot about it, and just took it out to see if it was worth keeping. Oh my goodness! It has aged into something gorgeous and fragrant! It reminds me most of The Butterfly from the Last Unicorn collection, but fuzzier, browner, even more cuddly. Goatweed Leafwing's tonka is snuggly and vanillic (but not foody), adorable (but not cloying); much like the Tonka Bean, Black Tea, & Vetiver trio, this one is as comforting as a worn-in blanket. The orange blossom is the other element reminding me of The Butterfly; it's totally bergamot essential oil to my nose, a soft fuzzy-edged lime-adjacent herbaceousness. Not cologne in the slightest! Grounding those higher notes are ambrette seed, earthy and sweetly smoky, and the brown sandalwood, which comes wrapped in a smooth tranquility that is like the best Shungas. These are both not flashy notes but they are part of the warmth that this scent exudes. With time and skin-warming, a subtle, deep spice emerges. Almost like tea, but less bitter-tannic than most teas. It's stunning. I am absolutely keeping my bottle and wearing the heck out of it! I would wear this while: reading in bed on a stormy weekend afternoon
  8. starbrow

    Weeping Faces of Wearied Loves

    The Lab's red wine and I have a tempestuous relationship. The struggle is real in this scent, with a big hit upfront on the skin: sour, potent red wine that always reads as a strange perfumey version of what actual red wine smells and tastes like. I think it's amplified by the grape flower in this case to really underscore a floral twinge of grapiness. Upon drydown, the powdery just-shy-of-bubblegum myrrh steps forward and takes center stage. I don't really smell any frankincense or vetiver in the mix, alas. Those were the two I was really hoping for when I acquired this blend, and I miss their resinous and grassy presence a whole lot. The black currant is very quiet, just a whisper of dark fragrant berry, but whether you love or hate black currant, it's definitely not a big player here. Overall, this is a musky red wine-dominant blend with some floral and myrrhish tendencies. It does mellow out as it sits, and gets quite pretty, even fancy. The vetiver never even peeks its head out. I ended up liking Weeping Faces of Wearied Loves a lot more than I thought I would, but I think someone else would like this more than me. Off it goes! I would wear this while: having a reverse night out where I start out with lots of wine and gradually get more sober and sophisticated.
  9. starbrow

    The Air and the Ether

    2017 version: This is one of the softest lavenders wet that I've smelled from the Lab yet. It reminds me of what an old lavender sachet made of lace would smell like. There is in fact something lace-like about how The Air and the Ether goes on wet, like the memory of sweet tobacco and crocheted lace, the drop of vanilla, the ghost of cognac dabbling the faded herbs of lavender. Lightly applied, this scent stays close to the skin, but with its old-fashioned vibes and dreamy quality, it would make a gorgeous sleep scent. I look forward to being able to slather! Bottle, here I come!
  10. starbrow


    Chocolate poudh, a la fresh How Doth the Little Crocodile. I am already nursing a bottle of that poor GC along, trying to get it to turn into the lovely musky chocolatey sex that I know it can be, so I definitely don't need another. I am sure Rogridiss will age into a beautiful smooth leathery chocolatey ride, with hints of tobacco and hemp and that strange dusty note that I know is rosin. However, I don't think I'll be along for the ride in anything bigger than a decant. Right now, it's big leather, big chocolate, big indoles. A weird and unsettling combination that never truly morphs on the skin the way How Doth does.
  11. starbrow

    Spectral Armies

    Atmospheric is dead on. The blasts of gunpowder are here, but so are the ghosts. A thick black smoke lies heavy in the air after a pitched battle, while all around, the cold skeletal fingers of ghosts reach out with something like shimmering white musk and pine pitch to clasp you in a prison of bare branches and snow. It dries down surprisingly beautiful. Ethereal, almost? If gunpowder can ever be called ethereal. It reminds me a bit of the smokiest parts of Amaxophobia - probably the I too am not in need of a full bottle of this, because I don't know how often I would reach for it as something to put on my body, but if this ever came in an atmo, hold my beer because CLICK CLICK CLICK.
  12. starbrow

    Spiced Cherry Bourbon

    Whoaaaaa everything is accounted for here. A true black cherry, NOT death by poisonous almond! Big-ass spices, led by cinnamon and punctuated with mulling spices. And bourbon, a woozy boozy swig that will warm down to the toes and cure what ails ya. Even though I tend to not like cherry + syrup or alcohol at all in scents or in real life (cough syrup vibes are real), here it's oddly charming. I really, REALLY enjoy the just-dried stage, where I'm vibing with this super adult, super Christmasy beverage. It has fantastic presence too, swirling around me in rich billowing waves. This is why we wait several hours before hitting purchase, people. The long drydown brings a screechy rubbing alcohol end to this party. EEK! This has plagued many a 2021 blend for me so far, and no exception here. I won't be upgrading, unfortunately, but if you don't have this problem, I can highly recommend Spiced Cherry Bourbon as a deliciously naughty drink to enjoy on your skin. I get a similar effect (without the booze, and without the rubbing alcohol) from Bloody Mary Bloody Mary, and so I will have to stick with that for now, I think.
  13. starbrow

    Just as the Clock Struck Twelve

    Chocolate but make it GHOSTLY. A rose-tinged cacao, nice and bitter, dances with a lot of spectral white musk. Not quite dryer sheet category, but it has the bright sparkly "clean" vibes that often come with white musk. This is a very clean ghost, y'all. I enjoy the grounding effect of ambrette seed, which is a little earthy, a little smoky, but definitely overwhelmed by the more vocal stars of cacao, rose, and white musk. I think ambrette seed would have needed one less of those to truly have its moment. Still, it gives a bit of vetiver-light to the blend, and I appreciate that. Missing in action for me is patchouli. I would have liked more darkness here. There is some woodiness, yet if you told me this was a Cacao, Rose, and White Musk trio, I would believe you. The patch doesn't really have a part to play in this blend, unfortunately in my opinion. Nor does this go to foodie places, with cacao playing out like coffee instead of dessert. I won't be upgrading to a full bottle, but I think if you enjoy ghostly rose blends, this one is rather beautiful.
  14. starbrow

    Move On, Please

    Oh, this is a heartbreaker! In its decant, this smells as weird and wonderful as the collection of notes suggests. Hard to pin down, but something wild and green and creepy and creeping. There's some oak in there I think, some cold grass, and something strange and twisting that I can't wait to try on skin. The first few minutes have a glorious edge that keeps me coming back for more sniffs and enjoying the mentholic punchy note in the blend. Then, tragedy strikes. The whole scent starts to scream like badly mixed chemicals. Think ammonia + bleach. It is beyond burning. Something visceral in me says "TOXIC. DANGER. DO NOT INHALE." I don't know what the heck is in this little sucker, but I got similar reactions as reviewers above. If you are sensitive at all to 2021's Lab blends, or to the alcohol in mainstream "fast fumes" body sprays like Bath and Body Works, then Move On Please might have you saying, indeed, NEXT.
  15. starbrow

    Ghosts at Aldershot

    Wow, the sniff from the bottle gives BIG lemon peppermint. Like, essential-oil strongth! Something sweet too, almost marshmallow floof but I've never met a marshmallow this strong either, it's like marshmallow's sturdy cousin Bertha. Curious how this will go on skin. Once applied, the peppermint is 1000% winning. It's a sweetened peppermint, and still has a drop of lemon's bright kick in there, but it's minty minty peppermint. This is absolutely the kind of thing that used to pass for candy back in ye olden days, but now it's the last thing you eat from the stash of the Halloween candy, and that only because everything else is gone and it's slightly better than nothing. At least it's crunchy and leaves your mouth fresh and tingly! I'm interested in the sweet poof of marshmallow that peeks its head out a bit, but I don't enjoy most peppermint-dominant scents, and that's definitely what Ghosts at Aldershot serves up for me.