Starsailor started off with a bang eight years ago and have since burnt out. Once a leading light in the league of emotive stadium rockers, they have fallen far behind Coldplay, Elbow and the latecomers.
These guys have all the trimmings of a successful stadium rock act: The anguished vocals, the gentle melodies with the occasional guitar outburst and the upward spiralling choruses. Yet, their fanbase of yore has fallen apart and the average Coldplay or Elbow fan of today is not listening.
The naked facts are sobering: 1st album ‘Love Is Home’ a number 2 in the UK, 2nd album ‘Silence Is Easy’ a number 2 and 3rd album ‘On The Outside’ number 13. ‘On The Outside’ got slated all around for being overly selfconscious and lacking direction. Starsailor worked four years on getting back to what they call straightforward, simple songs. Their new album ‘All The Plans’ ain’t simple, but it is a fairly straight pop album that languishes in the UK Top 30 as we speak.
Why should you be bothered with this sob-sob story? Well, if you like Snow Patrol, Keane or, indeed, the ubiquitous Coldplay or Elbow, then its worth your while to listen to ‘All The Plans’. It’s a mellow rock album full of well-crafted songs with melancholic lyrics and boppy melodies. You want emotions? Starsailor singer James Walsh certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.
It ain’t my cup of tea, but ‘All The Plans’ sits fair and square in the emotive stadium rock genre from where I’m standing. Humbled by five years of decline and now back to starting from scratch, Starsailor might well turn out to be the next ‘baby’ Coldplay.
I cringed at lines like ‘I’m walking these wet streets somewhere alone’ (on ‘Hurts So Much’), but that’s just the same nonsense I’ve panned other pomp rockers for in the past year. It’s a matter of taste, I guess, and this stuff seems just too popular to ignore.
Whatever your feelings about this kind of stadium rock, there are two songs on ‘All The Plans’ that you should try: ‘Safe At Home’ and ‘The Thames’.
On these songs Starsailor step out of genre and get closer to the frail sound of their original inspiration, cult US singer songwriter Tim Buckley. You see, the band called itself after Buckley’s 1970 album ‘Starsailor’, which is quite difficult to guess considering their usual style of playing. But check this out, ‘The Thames’ is a bit busier and ‘Safe At Home’ is a very mellow joint.
Oh, did I mention it? Rolling Stones’ guitarist and ex-Faces wild man Ronnie Wood showed up during the ‘All The Plans’ sessions to provide moral support. He’s credited for playing on the title track as well. Make of that what you want, but I’m sure all involved had a good time recording this.
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