In a cynical world, sometimes a little hope and buoyancy doesn’t go amiss.
You know where you stand with Stornoway. The first song on the Oxfordshire quartet’s second album is a five-minute tableau of frontman Brian Briggs’ wedding day, at which everything goes sickeningly well and absolutely no-one takes ketamine and picks a fight with the bride’s brother. ‘You Take Me As I Am’ more or less sets the tone for ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, an album whose inexhaustible stores of optimism oscillate between admirable and outright quixotic. It’s true that Stornoway do nothing that innumerable Mumford & Clones bands don’t at the moment, but the difference is that they tend to do it quite well: ‘Farewell Appalachia’ and ‘The Great Procrastinator’ are both beautifully crafted songs, while ‘The Bigger Picture’ has a certain amount of Belle & Sebastian naivety about it. It’s still occasionally a bit too ‘nice’ for its own good, but in a cynical world, sometimes a little hope and buoyancy doesn’t go amiss.