Deserves attentionStarsailor - On the Outside
(Artist Addiction Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 7, 2006
Review by Andy ArgyrakisEver since the Oasis/Blur rivalry of the mid-1990s, it's been nearly impossible to keep track of the ongoing British Invasion. Sure, the trend has taken dips and twists in the past ten years, but the ground swell is especially apparent at the moment with bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Keane ruling the record stores. Right alongside of those bands is the underappreciated and overlooked (but still highly capable) Starsailor, who despite being platinum sellers, have much better luck overseas than stateside. Bouts of major label red tape that led to the band getting lost in the shuffle sure didn't help its cause, but rather than fading away into obscurity, the guys have thankfully regrouped and rebounded with a dozen worthwhile new tunes.
On the Outside may have been made with a more independent compass, but it doesn't take away a single bit from the group's signature momentum crests and lush production. But it does help place the quartet within a mindset that doesn't strive to be the next big radio formula, and a result, shine to such significant degrees that it could very well ascend to greater heights. "I Don't Know" is an especially urgent battle cry that merges pleading vocals, shimmering guitars and so much U.K. cool it would make the Stereophonics squirm with jealousy. "Counterfeit Life" demonstrates a full-figured instrumental onslaught that is also carried by stirring piano flourishes and a rugged underbelly sure to squash Keane in its much sappier steps.
And that's not to say Starsailor is so extreme that they lack accessibility, it's just that by ignoring the current crazes, the players develop their sonic atmospheres with each and every tune. "White Light" is amongst one of the more potent but still beautiful displays, expanding from the chill of sparse keys to a clamoring crescendo of entrancing guitars and hypnotic vocals. Even the disc's bonus track "Empty Streets" shouldn't be skipped thanks to its pub rock catchiness and easygoing spirit, wrapping up Starsailor's latest exploration with yet another example of optimism that will hopefully earn the group the American attention it deserves.
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