Starsailor may have had a platinum-selling debut in Love Is Here; they may be the band who re-awakened legendary producer Phil Spector from a Rip Van Winkle-esque 20-year slumber (prior to him killing a prostitute, allegedly); and the word on the street may have been that Silence Is Easy is a better record than Coldplay‘s A Rush Of Blood To The Head; but somehow they still feel like the underdogs of British indie.
Perhaps it’s because Love Is Here was a slow-burning success. Perhaps it’s because for every fan there’s a cynical hack who finds it easier to criticise instead of glorying in the fact that this nation is currently producing bags of quality, soulful indie (emotional softcore?). Perhaps it’s because James Walsh’s voice has the sort of vulnerable qualities that led to the big-mouth Gallagher brothers thinking he’d be an easy target. But then when were Oasis right about, well anything at all, quite frankly?
For those still wondering if Silence Is Easy is better than A Rush Of Blood To The Head they won’t find answers to such superfluous questions here. There are similarities, mind, for when Silence Is Easy is good it’s very good and although it is never bad, it is occasionally dull.
Starsailor are at their strongest when keeping the beat uptempo. Opener Music Was Saved consists of an insistent rhythm and downright jaunty chorus amongst its ’60s guitar-band feel. The title track and current single, one of the two Spector-produced numbers here, is probably the most immediate track with its wall of instrumentation (rather than Wall Of Sound), and the type of anthemic chorus that Love Is Here was littered with.
Best of the lot, however, has to be Four To The Floor, which has “live favourite” written into its musical genes. This is the most ambitious thing Starsailor have attempted, all funky beats, lush, Las Vegas cabaret strings and the catchiest hook this side of a Japanese whaler. Gosh, I never thought that “flamboyant” would be a word I’d use when reviewing Starsailor, but they’ve made me do it, the Chorley rascals.
As mentioned, there is some stuff here that will make you glad you’ve bought the skippable CD rather than vinyl. For all its background strings (a trick employed readily throughout the album), Telling Them is just a tad too coffee table for comfort. Shark Food consists of two sections, both with an irritating, repeated lyric; and the Spector number two, White Dove, is slow, string-laden and stultifying.
But at the end of it all, Silence Is Easy is still more of a triumph than a disaster, more of a pleasure than a pain in the proverbial. Starsailor are not some ersatz Coldplay, Doves or anyone else – they are their own band with their own qualities. They just need to iron out some of their own wrinkles too.