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BPAL Madness!


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About starbrow

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  1. starbrow

    Body, Remember

    2018: Fun fact, this was in my first BPAL order as a blind bottle! I just thought it sounded pretty. Now when I smell it, I get hella nostalgia. A personalized reaction to this scent for sure, but it no doubt colors my impressions. Something about Body, Remember makes me think of - bear with me - an idealized version of sex. One with sweet skin-musk, coconut oil from a massage, sugared bodies mingling. It's a romance novel version of sex aromas. It doesn't have quite the raw sex skank that will openly remind you of the real thing, or make it too X-rated to wear in public. But it definitely is the memory of sex, softened with a glowing filter. The black coconut brings to mind the same dark purply note from Death Adder, and the sugared champaca is much like Temple Viper. If you like either of those two scents, Body, Remember might be a good chance to take. Weirdly, I agree that this is vaguely orange-blossomy. Could it be the champaca flower? It is in such harmony with the other notes in the bottle, gleaming like candlelit skin. I would definitely wear this on a third date.
  2. starbrow

    Snake's Kiss

    2018: Snake's Kiss is the most dramatic example of aging I've experienced. Fresh, it was so quiet, in bottle and on skin, the whisper of a kiss, lemon sugar. I almost let it go. Instead, I tucked it into a drawer with the other 2018 Lupers and forgot about it for a year. When I remembered it, I was stunned. The coy whisper had turned into a full-on smooch of honeycomb, a sweet and gooey honey with none of the bite and a smear of beeswax creaminess. The sugariness is here and it is LOUD. The vanilla almost reminds me of the 90s vanilla obsession, verging on that generic bodysplash that I get from Antique Lace, but not quite tipping over into it. It stays unique thanks to its base in BPAL aesthetic. It is a snek, through and through. Yet the Snake Oil is the quietest of the notes in Snake's Kiss arsenal from its incipient year. It is, arguably, the Snake Oil variant that is farthest away from its mother scent. It keeps that verging-on-playdo-quality of classic Snake Oil and, obviously, the vanilla, while bumping up the creaminess to an eleven and letting the spices fade into a distant murmur in the background. I would say this is more like Morocco than Snake Oil, and indeed, fans of the former will find a lot to love in this kiss. This would be an excellent gateway drug into BPAL. Interestingly, I think the drop of lemon sugar is a little reminiscent of the 2020 March "13" blend. If you missed that one, Snake's Kiss might give you vibes.
  3. starbrow


    THIS ONE, Y'ALL. THIS IS THE ONE. It's so, so me. I am a red musk lover and an amber lover, so already I had a good chance of loving it. Let's dive deep. From a single whiff of my decant, I knew this would be an instant bottle. It smells aged to perfection, and it's only a few weeks old. Holy yes. Onto the skin it goes. This is sparkly amber. S P A R K L Y. It's Alleviate the Frenzy, Elle Est Heureuse, Galerie Des Glaces, House of Mirrors Atmo, amber. She glances at her reflection in a glassy pool, fluffs her hair, and spins into a bright cloud that is magnificent to linger in. Divine. Her bestie is a playful and dressed-for-springtime red musk. You may be used to heavy, thick red musks. Well, she's barely clothed here. It's delightful. Somehow, she brightens up the amber even more while also singing a high, piercing call that might just beckon some wayward sailors. If Abalone Vulva is pink mermaid musk, Awake is red siren musk. She smells like she could kill, and you would die happy. Red musk fans need this in their life. Amber and glass-note lovers need this in their life. If you liked Abalone Vulva and could picture yourself wearing a more sultry version of it, don't hesitate, take the plunge. I just want to sing the good news that is Awake.
  4. starbrow

    Abalone Vulva

    Pink mermaid musk is absolutely dead on. Sparkling and twinkling, absolutely the kind of scent I would recommend to a girly-girl, tween or otherwise. It's all so dang likable. Nothing discordant or 'off'. Sweet, cute, pink. I would even go so far as to say this is Mermaid Barbie Musk. It is so very, very pink. I'm getting Pink Amber and Peony vibes. Perhaps it shares some notes? This is the younger sister of Awake, the sweet and naive cousin of Alleviate the Frenzy. If any of those scents appealed to you, I'd highly recommend you pick up some Abalone Vulva. It didn't suit my personality, but on the right person this will be money.
  5. starbrow

    Alleviate the Frenzy

    2019: Sparkly amber, reporting for duty. She's bright and perky-eyed at the core of this scent, but around her glows a nimbus of sweet and VERY VERY SALTY peach musk. I can't emphasize the saltiness enough. This is not a peach-dominant scent. It's all about that shiny, shiny amber, effervescently resinous, and her aura of supersalt. It starts off a little quiet on me, then starts glowing and glowing until the peach musk is fiercely concentrated and resonates off of my skin and into the atmosphere. It has a bit of the shine of the Elle Est Heureuse "window cleaner" potency. It doesn't give me a headache here, as long as I don't smell it right up close. I really love the cloud it creates. It lasts so very long too. Maybe even 12 hours. Crazy-long wear. I am not usually a peach-lover, but Alleviate the Frenzy is something else. She really is a little...hysterical, but in a good way. Amber lovers, take note! I think it might even be the same amber as in Abalone Vulva and Awake, both from the 2020 Lupers.
  6. starbrow

    Wan Wan

    I get exactly one of the listed notes: carnation. Spicy, creamy carnation. That's it. That's the scent. Did I raise eyebrows at the carnation and jonquil on this list like, behave, you two? Absolutely. Did they listen? They did not. Single-note carnation is not at all what I signed up for with Wan Wan, and while it's very pretty as SN Carnation goes, I went the rest of it. Clove ALWAYS shows up for parties. So where is it?? Day-drinking with hay and vanilla, laughing about how that silly Star thought they would actually come to this one? I don't even know, man. Maybe with some aging this carnation will grow up and get some friends.
  7. starbrow

    Old Buddhist Monk Penetrating a Rapturous Skeleton

    Honestly? I was expecting something a lot more perverse and funkafied from the name. The blend is surprisingly approachable. The sandalwood and balsam is a leetle bit funky, but no more so than any other blend with these two notes. They curl around the powderiness of the orris and the grounding of the champa and hiba to create an exceptionally dry, rattly pseudo-incense. I'm a little bit disturbed that this does smell like bones, dust, and skin-sweat. I mean, as long as everybody's having a good time? Get you some. Ultimately, this wasn't something I would wear and so I passed along my decant, no bottle upgrade, but it's worth a shot if the notes themselves appeal to you. Don't be scared by the name! OR THE ART 😮
  8. starbrow

    Red Lantern

    2007 was a super weird one to me. Lots of black currant, a dusty caramel, and not much else. A lackluster fruity blend, not nearly as rich as the description made it seem. Caramel is a flop on my skin in general, but this particular year of Red Lantern was a total bust for me.
  9. starbrow

    To My Dear and Loving Husband

    Check out that sexy list of notes. It's everything I want and more. I blind-bottled. Here's what I get: Champaca blossom. Copal. That's it. That's the scent. It's a fizzy, fizzy copal that you might recognize from other Lupers (Kabe Ni Mimi Ga Aru, Shoki Ni Me Ga Aru; Frankincense, Copal, and Cacao Atmo) or the Coffee Beans & Copal yule. I am not a fan of this copal. It's a cola that resides in funk land, like somehow (somehow), you left a little bit of opened soda in your cupboard for a couple years and it is now eminently Undrinkable. I kind of like it from a distance? It has a spice that somehow reminds me of long-ago times, like 1950s aftershave and dapper gentlemen. I like it when I don't have my nose up against it. I hate it when I'm sniffing it outright. It's rendered really redolent with the champaca blossom. This is a hard note to describe. It was best used to imitate/enhance the fragrance of basmati rice in the I Will Be Strange, Stout, in Yellow Stockings blend. It is potent, not quite floral, not incensey, not popcorny, not foodie, but little flickers of all of those things. It doesn't really work here for me, amping up the effects of the copal and giving it massive throw. I am kind of mad at this duo. It's not letting any other note speak, and it's not a harmonious pair in my nose. I won't be getting other blends that have these two in them, because holy mother, they don't do it for me. I had huge hopes for this one, but alas, they are all dashed!
  10. starbrow

    Social Justice Paladin

    Shining is absolutely spot-on. At the intersection of gleaming RPG Paladin and fervent To My Dear and Loving Husband lies Social Justice Paladin. It shares the purity and brightness of the original Paladin, while leading with the two main notes of Husband, champaca and copal. For those who fear Lemon Pledge from the lemon peel, have no fear; I wouldn't even guess from just sniffing that this has citrus in it. Mostly what the lemon seems to be doing is brightening and buffing up the other notes like a soft cloth, rather than blasting it with actual cleaner fluid. Also missing in action to my nose are the amber and frankincense, two notes I love. So why was this a miss for me? It comes down to champaca and copal, two notes I enjoy in other blends but when they hold hands, it's vaguely unsettling. The high-pitched resin of the copal amplifies the fiercely cheerful champaca until these notes are both screaming in my nose. They hogged the limelight in Husband, and they are a smugly polished pair here. I will be avoiding this particular duo in future blends, but if they work for you, Social Justice Paladin may be the armor you need for these times. Recommended for fans of To My Dear and Loving Husband, Paladin, Fighter.
  11. starbrow

    Spectral Erection Hair Gloss

    I'm a sucker for green tea blends. Spectral Erection sucker-punched me into an early blind bottle. Why yes, I will take one ghostly boner! This smells like no BPAL I've ever smelled like before. The closest I can come is Zombie Green HG, which is a dark green and vaguely swampy/weedy chypre. Spectral Erection is an electric green chypre that bursts out of the bottle with explosive power, both whiffing the uncapped lid and once sprayed on the hair. The moss and ambergris are incredibly potent, overwhelmingly so to my nose. They sound earthy, but in reality they zing with bright green ferocity and zip right up my nose and to the back of my throat. I get no white amber, the barest hint of florals, and no green tea other than, perhaps, the kind of matcha powder that might indeed contribute to the one-two punch of that ambergris and pale moss. I picture this on an older Southern gentleman, one who chomps on cigars and runs a newspaper office and writes all the checks. It's not even cologney, with all the implications of Aqua and Axe; no, it's old-old-old school men's wear. And it is SO STRONG and lasts SO LONG. (If you have a Spectral Erection lasting more than four hours, call your perfumer?) Alas, I ended up getting massive headaches everytime I smelled or (only one time) tested it. So, sadly, this phantom penis is getting the boot.
  12. Chaos Theory VI: Vanilla 464 (Notes from recip included vanilla musk, strawberry peach?) Whoa trippy! Vanilla musk is way different than I thought it would be! From the first sniff in the bottle, it's a whole lotta vanilla put on blast by something perfumey and quite fruity. My nose immediately wants to translate this as plastic, but it's more than that; there's just some extra stuff in there that's coloring the vanilla, and I wish I was more versed in notes that could do that, but it must be some musk-type element. Definitely some fruity interpretations of things, not "fresh" fruit, but fruit syrup. A pretty direct trip from bottle to skin-scent, except that once it starts drying down, the musk creates a really pretty wafty cloud of fluffy vanilla. It's very poofy, to the point of marshmallow, but only from a distance. Up close, like nose-to-wrist, it stays in that hovery-plastic realm for the first hour or so, with a trippy spice that I can't identify. Cardamom? Coriander? A weed of some kind? If I ever figure it out, I'll update. It sits staring down the "fruit flavoring" strawberry and the perfumey peach that's hanging out in the background thinking hard about what it would be like to be an actual peach. This is such a strange, wild, cool ride. I can't decide if I'll keep riding it or pass it along, but either way, it's fun!
  13. starbrow


    Cloves and incense are two of my favorite notes! Cinnamon I can take or leave, and needless to say, that is the note that dominates here. I compared it with my cinnamon bark essential oil, and it's so similar, Al-Shairan might as well be a single note. There is a touch of something fruity, that splash of orange and peach bringing to mind some of my essential oil blends that are 'spiced cider' or 'harvest spice' themed, but Al-Shairan doesn't actually smell like cider to me, more like an essential oil version of it. I get zero clove, zero incense, and no noticeable patchouli. If you love cinnamon bark essential oil, this is the scent for you. Personally, I turn to BPAL for more artistic interpretations than what I get from my EO blends, so I won't be needing more of this than my standard one GC imp.
  14. starbrow

    Black Supermoon 2015

    Really and truly black hole-dark. One of the inkiest, 3-am scents I can think of. Black Supermoon is the smokiest of vetivers, ferocious and yet shadowy. It has teeth, yet it doesn't actually drag you from the road and shoot you down like The Highwayman. It is girded with the velvety purple of opoponax and armed with a cinnamony patchouli. The sun is not the only one who can burn, for this moon is searing the inside of my elbow! The crust of salt and slight glimmer of brightness (must be the lime and mandarin) throw a welcome lifeline into the darkness of the black hole. With time, the intensity fades to a dull roar and it is a beautiful smoky, shadowy purr in the crook of my arm. Much like a cat who dreams of days stalking the grasses and bringing down small mammals. There is even a furriness to the darkness that strikes me as feline. The drydown is my favorite part. Unf.
  15. starbrow

    Midian Unmade

    Upon first sniff, it's that wet dirt/cold stone/dark forest vibe that the Lab loves to bottle, it's showed up in so many blends and always falls just short of actual geosmin. Once it hits the skin, the cold stone recedes and it's wet dirt and cement, with a pinch of incense. On drydown, I almost get...spearmint? Weird. I don't like the spearmint note at all. I want wet dirt to come back. This should be dark and insidious. It is a little...dentisty.