A bit like a Lightning Seeds for the new century, this is a band that exudes natural appeal and does so with humility, poetic spirit and great verve.
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Time: 11 tracks / 45 mins
Gloriously unique, Stornoway’s talent pool is lake-sized. They skip between genres with dextrous ease, play more instruments than is healthy for musicians with only one pair of hands each and on this release have created an infectiously upbeat set of immediately accessible songs.
Even on a track punningly called “Lost Youth,” which delicately pastes together impressions of post-adolescence (“We don't know where we stand, but we think we know what we stand for ... We are lost, but now we know we're on our way / We are lost on our way to find peace between our bodies and our brains”) they manage to celebrate where they are, honest about their uncertainty, but with an almost tangible sense of hope of overcoming it.
Their sound is simple and consistent, but difficult to pin down. They come across as definitive anthem bearers for the thirty-something generation, and live out that eclecticism, having the contagious singability of pop, the direct energy of Indie-rock and the earthy rootedness of folk (particularly on the 3/4-time “Josephine”). All of this is dressed with harmonies that bring to mind songs from the simpler era of the early sixties, but given a contemporary symphonic boost.
The band are famously keen ornithologists. Birdsong and bird references liberally grace the disc, but these are just some symptoms of a wider appreciation of nature and the outdoors that runs in the band’s bloodstream, coming out in the imagery of crossing ice fields in “Heart of the Great Alone” and in such graphically vivid lyrics as “Did we see the curve of the earth from where we stood side by side / With the clouds around our ankles?”
The players are able musicians. Watching them live, the four of them (and their two backing singers/ instrumentalists) manage something like seventeen different instruments (including an axe-head on wood as percussion). Yet they use these options with great discretion, never putting a clever-dick approach ahead of letting a strong tune pour out naturally.
These songs fly by quickly and several will be ringing in your head for a good while. A bit like a Lightning Seeds for the new century, this is a band that exudes natural appeal and does so with humility, poetic spirit and great verve.