The majority of British artists that land on my iPod these days are either glittered out electro fanfare or stylized old-timey folk product, neither of which has ever been able to hold my attention beyond a single or two. Stornoway, at first glance, fits pretty well in the latter camp, with a pension for silly hats and too much tweed. But unlike its folkster comrades, Stornoway's new record Beachcomber's Windowsill
will keep attention far beyond its catchy single, saddling up for the long haul armed with briny pop and tad bit more sincerity.
One of Stornoway's greatest strengths is frontman Brain Brigg's choir boyish vocals, which, besides a measure of bassline, is the first thing you hear on the record. The album opener "Zorbing" doubles as the debut single that (deservingly) earned the band whirlwind of exposure, covering some key pop movements a la puppy love lyrics, raining harmonies, and a giddy brass section (yes!). The album's second single "I Saw You Blink" follows suit with its bouncy baroque pop, far more in step with Belle and Sebastian than John Prine (and all the more authentic for it), while "Fuel Up" follows a "Circle Game" growing up theme, strung up like an updated sea shanty.
Lyrically, Beachcomber's Windowsill
shines brightest when the voice is a little wide-eyed, precious at times with that sort of post-childhood renewed wonder towards (reoccurring themes) the seaside, birds, and your first true love. Have these guys met Jonathan Meiburg? Some of this record feels like secondary school Shearwater, ornithology meets folk rock by the sea.
But straying from the record's more halcyon moments, there are some missteps, most notably the track "We Are The Battery Human", an unsuccessful jaunty soapbox about how people really dig Facebook too much, while the far more frantic "Watching Birds" is just sonically out of place. But all in all Beachcomber's Windowsill is instantly enjoyable all the way through, friendly and unpretentious, and most importantly uninterested in making you work for its affections. What a novel concept. -amelia trask
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Stornoway on Myspace