Starsailor – On The Outside (2005): Review

starsailor

Whatever critical and commercial success Starsailor had created from their strong 2001 debut “Love Is Here”, it was spectacularly destroyed by the follow up,“Silence Is Easy”. The vast sonic contrast between the two recordings was too much for the fans. The inertly stodgy soundscape allied to a distinct drop in quality songs meant that album number three would have to be a mighty step forward in order to return the band to the fore front of the modern Britrock sound that was dominating the early noughties airwaves. Whilst just three years previously, James Walsh and his cohorts could have considered themselves leaders of the brand, by 2005 they were ‘also-rans’ behind the likes of Coldplay, Embrace, Snow Patrol and Athlete. A shame really, because Walsh is a decent front man with a more than appealing voice that often exposes a raw passion which belies the polished instrumentation that backs him. Sadly it seems, the band don’t realize this asset and rather than utilize his potential, they opt for a very safe, over polished and intensely “market” driven album.

starsailor2

“On The Outside” starts promisingly, with the excellent “In The Crossfire”, which allows Walsh full opportunity to vent his evident self doubts via a soaring, powerful chorus. The dramatic intensity is maintained by “Counterfeit Life” and “In My Blood”, but by track four the band attempt overwrought stadium style rallying calls which sound like an inferior version of something U2 were performing 20 years previously. Rob Schnapf’s powerhouse production effort only serves to highlight the fact that “Faith/Hope/Love” and the terribly repetitive “Keep Us Together” sound like tragic reincarnations of minor league U2 copyists Cactus World News. From this point, everything begins to sound relentlessly similar, a monochrome “fists aloft” battle cry with lyrics that make ambiguous statements about everything and nothing. It’s all a far cry from the confident vitality of “Love Is Here” as the band wind down towards the finale by trapping themselves into sad pastiches of Snow Patrol and Embrace (“This Time”, “White Light”).

The biggest disappointment is that “On The Outside” reeks of calculation and compromise.

5/10

1 In The Crossfire 3:17
2 Counterfeit Life 3:31
3 In My Blood 3:56
4 Faith Hope Love 2:48
5 I Don’t Know 3:22
6 Way Back Home 3:11
7 Keep Us Together 3:47
8 Get Out While You Can 3:07
9 This Time 3:33
10 White Light 4:35
11 Jeremiah 3:40

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5 responses to “Starsailor – On The Outside (2005): Review

  1. Funny. When I saw the name Starsailor, I thought you were once again going to get me to give another chance to a band in whom I didn’t what the fuss was all about.

  2. I believe the band who sang the dance hit ‘gonna make you sweat’ was named C & C music factory.
    If the C & C in this starsailor case stand for compromise & calculation, no thanks!

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