Whether you’re a teflon-hearted futurist, a rock’n’roll thrillseeker, or just in
possession of an easily snapped attention span, talk of a new musical language
is always irresistible. The idea that somebody, somewhere, is out there making
previously unimagined music, testing the limits of their equipment and sanity in
the name of progression, is an enduringly exciting one. However, there are
people who consider any deviation from this path to be a betrayal of music, of
rock’n’roll, of [I]art[/I], godammit – and to be honest, these are not people who
you want knowing your home phone number.
For complaining thatStarsailor, four young men who simply play guitars and keyboards and sing beautifully about human relationships, don’t push the boundaries of musical language is like reprimanding someone who speaks perfect French for not learning Esperanto instead. Fluency, creative syntax, ease of expression: these are rare and cherishable things, and as a result of these skills, Starsailor have produced a debut album of real emotional depth.
Yes, all the accusations levelled at them by their detractors – they’re in
thrall to their heroes, they work within well-mined conventions – might be
pretty undeniable, but ‘Love Is Here’ is not a record that needs excuses made
for it. It possesses an alluring assurance that means that even at its most
vulnerable – the crushed drug-buddy betrayal of ‘Coming Down’, the tender
defiance of ‘Alcoholic’ – there’s an edge that pushes them [I]way[/I] beyond
the feathery, big-eyed, hatchling indie of Coldplay. It’s partly thanks to James
Walsh’s remarkable tuning fork of a voice; partly the sense of effortlessness
that comes with accomplished musicians playing instinctively. And surprisingly,
given James’ interview reticence, it’s a lyrically deft record, a sequence of
hazy, enigmatic vignettes about meeting strangers in cinemas or while sheltering
from the weather, about arguing all night and watching the clock until dawn.
These are songs crowded with family, friends, lovers – [I]”Don’t you know you’ve
got your Daddy’s eyes/And Daddy was an alcoholic” being the most striking
example – a cast that fits into the intimate patterns and human warmth of the
Most importantly – and a real kick in the head for the anti-traditionalists –
every one of these eleven songs embeds itself in your mind, their obvious
influences – Buckleys, Young, Morrison, The Verve – synthesised into something
mysteriously moving. Even at their sturdiest – the straight-arrow folk fury of
‘Poor Misguided Fool’, the plain, plaintive title track – the songs come spiked
with that voice. You cannot legislate for the euphoric swoop of ‘Lullaby’,
the tough-love rawness of ‘Talk Her Down’; you cannot smash ‘Love Is Here’ into
its constituent parts. Because, whatever language Starsailor speak, they speak
it from the heart.