11 March 2009

Starsailor: "All the Plans"

A friend of mine, who happens to be the biggest Brian Molko fan this side of the Atlantic, reached out to me excited with the prospect of Starsailor’s release of their fourth album. She volunteered immediately to write up a review, and I was more than happy to oblige and post. Here is a review by Juju.

Deriving their name from a 1970 Tim Bukley album of the same name, Starsailor has released four albums since 2001, including their newest album “All the Plans” (released March 2009, Virgin). This is not an experimental album, but Starsailor stuck with what they do best: melodic songs with meaningful lyrics.

Although now being released under the Virgin moniker as opposed to EMI, the changes are not radical on the actual music. (Virgin is part of the EMI Group.) The biggest difference was the tone; it seems that “All the Plans” is a more ambient and calm album. While the previous albums have more upbeat tracks, the newest album concentrates on meaningful songs that strike the soul. This is what the band and producer, Steve Osborne, were aiming for. Osborne, who also co-produced the debut album “Love Is Here” (2001), enables the band to stay more on the romantic side that is genuinely Starsailor. Whereas new tracks like “The Thame” may totally differ from old classics like “Four to the Floor” (from “Love Is Here”), it maintains an upbeat tempo to a certain extent in order to avoid an emotionally overwhelming album.

Like many rock bands, Starsailor cannot possibly be categorized. They are placed under “rock” and “piano rock” but that is quite naïve to say. Starsailor has the capacity to range from arranging music with strings, to standard piano rock, to incorporating wind instruments, and in each instance creating a new and fresh sound. There is no constant subject that the band dwells on; rather the songs are a conglomerate of various emotions and events in one’s life. The lead single of the album is “Tell Me It’s Not Over” (released 2 March 2009), which is rather heart wrenching with a few possible interpretations. At times the lyrics are straightforward: “Thought I'd lost you once again … All that drinking bought some trouble to our name”; but then complicating the narrative with lyrics like “Now the lights out … I discover, she is sleeping … with another.” The song starts off with a character with a drinking problem and “you” was thought to be hope, but then a girl is introduced, which adds to the meaning. These lyrics added with beautiful arrangements, truly makes this single.

“All the Plans” is calming, happy, sad, and just about every simple emotion put into one “soulful” and relaxing album. Unfortunately, it is not easy for indie rock bands/artists to hit it big on the Billboard charts, but this album is a solid one filled with tracks that are unforgettable. Eyebrows should be raised over this awesome album – do not overlook it!

Track Listing:

1. Tell Me It's Not Over
2. Boy In Waiting
3. The Thames
4. All The Plans
5. Neon Sky
6. You Never Get What You Deserve
7. Hurts Too Much
8. Stars And Stripes
9. Change My Mind
10. Listen Up
11. Safe At Home

Keep up with the band on thier homepage , MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.